UAE aims to qualify for 2009 World Cup

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Dubai, Apr 7 (UNI) Undaunted after crashing out of the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have set their sights on the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2009.

The UAE, who appeared in the semi-final of the inaugural tournament in 2004 and again in 2005, lost to Canada, Namibia, Kenya, Ireland and the Netherlands while their only success came against Bermuda (by 138 runs).

They drew their opening encounter against Scotland with bad weather permitting only 44 overs of play.

But UAE skipper Saqib Ali says the experience of this tournament will help his team to prepare for the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2009 from which four teams will join the 10 Full Members in the 14-team ICC Cricket World Cup to be staged in the Asian subcontinent.

''It was a disappointing tournament for us but the positive side is that it has helped us assess ourselves as a cricketing nation,'' Saqib said.

''We now exactly know where we stand, what we need to do to improve and how to finish in top four of the ICC World Cup Qualifier,'' he added.

The UAE qualified for the ICC World Cup Qualifier by winning the World Cup League Division 2 in Windhoek last year in November-December. Oman, Namibia and Denmark are the other teams from the Windhoek tournament to join Kenya, Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and Bermuda which earned automatic qualification in the Qualifier by virtue of their places in WCL division 1.

The tally of teams will rise to 12 by the finalists from WCL division 3 which will be staged next year in Argentina from 24 to 31 January.

''We would have liked to be part of the ICC Intercontinental Cup until the end but if we are eliminated early, it's simply because we were not at par with the rest of the team in terms of experience as we were never short of talent,'' Saqib stated.

''Nevertheless, we can utilize this extra time by setting targets for ourselves in the one-day arena. Obviously, one of the things on which we have to work a lot harder is our fielding and fitness which are extremely vital in limited-overs cricket.'' UNI XC AB CS HS2158

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