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  • Windies 257-8 (50 overs) vs Ireland – Group A

    HARARE, Zimbabwe, CMC – West Indies, sent in by Ireland, reached 257 for eight off their 50 overs, in their Group A match of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers at Harare Sports Club here Saturday.

    Scores:

    WEST INDIES 257 for eight off 50 overs (Rovman Powell 101, Jason Holder 54, Shimron Hetmyer 36; Tim Murtagh 4-41, Andy McBrine 2-45) vs IRELAND.

  • Keemo Paul replaces Sheldon Cottrell in the Windies side

    The ICC has confirmed that the Event Technical Committee of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 has approved Keemo Paul as a replacement player for Sheldon Cotterell in the Windies squad for the tournament, which began on 4 March.

    Cotterell who injured his hamstring in his side’s first match against the United Arab Emirates has now been ruled out of further participation in the tournament after a MRI scan. 

    Paul, a 20-year-old right-arm bowler and lower-order batsman participated at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2016 when Windies won the title, but has yet to make his ODI debut.

    The replacement of a player requires the approval of the Event Technical Committee before the incoming player can be officially added to the squad.

    The Event Technical Committee of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 is made up of Geoff Allardice (ICC General Manager – Cricket, Chairman), Chris Tetley (ICC Head of Events), Faisal Hasnain, Chris Chiketa (both host nominees), Mpumelelo Mbangwa and Lisa Sthalekar (both independent nominees).

    The Windies have won both their matches in the tournament beating the United Arab Emirates and Papua New Guinea to date, and will play Ireland and the Netherlands on 10 and 12 March.

  • Keemo Paul – Right place, right time

    St John’s, ANTIGUA – Professional athletes must always be thinking “I must always challenge my limit never to miss an opportunity.” That must be what Keemo Paul is thinking now as he is on stand-by to go to Zimbabwe to join the WINDIES in the World Cup Qualifiers now on.

    Paul is no stranger to pressure, excitement and being in the right place at the right time. He boasts an impressive bowling figure of 5 for 49 against the England Lions. The WINDIES A went down to the wire to win by a close 5 runs margin. That five-wickets haul form part of his overall 28 wickets at the List A level to include performances in the recently-concluded Super50 Cup and the One and Four Day matches against the England Lions.

    Keemo, who just turned 20 on February 21 this year, was part of that WINDIES Under 19 that beat India in the final to secure the region’s first World Title for that category. He was the one who scored the final runs to secure that win against India. His last 24 months has had exciting and fulfilling performances.

    Paul is on the fringe of becoming the 3rd member of that World Cup winning team to get in to the WINDIES elite team. His teammates Alzarri Joseph and Shimron Hetmyer have already secured spots.

    Paul has played key roles in his Franchise Team, the Guyana Jaguars. The first of which was his final game as a “youth” cricketer when he helped the Young Jaguars to the Regional Under 19 title. He was the leading all-rounder for the tournament. Shortly after he made his first-class debut against Trinidad and Tobago and scored 27 valuable runs coming in at number 11; despite an injury to his hand. He couldn’t bowl for the remainder of that match.

    After an absence of just one round, Paul took career best figures of 6-28 against the Windwards Islands as the Jaguars claimed their third consecutive four-day title. In the 2017 – 2018 Regional 4Day and still only 19 years of age, he had consistently good performances and despite the dominance of spin, Paul took an exceptional 42 wickets.

    His coach when he won in 2016, Graeme West, thinks “his ability to swing the ball at a skiddy pace was just as effective in the shorter (50-overs) version of the game.” His game-changing 5 for 76 against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes “reinforced the reputation he has developed to perform well under pressure.”

    The Super50 tournament spell was cut short; only for a move up to the next level as he replaced the injured Miguel Cummins in the WINDIES A side versus the touring England Lions. In the 4Day format, his stats read 7-0-25-2 and 3-1-3-0.

    West is convinced that Keemo’s performances so far “only adds to the momentum that the young man is building and may well have edged him one step closer to following in Joseph and Hetmyer’s footsteps into the Senior side.”

    Only time will tell.

  • Classy Holder helps Windies survive PNG scare

    HARARE, Zimbabwe, CMC – Skipper Jason Holder agonisingly missed out on a maiden one-day hundred but helped to spare West Indies blushes, as they turned back a plucky Papua New Guinea by six wickets, to post their second win of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers here Thursday.

    Chasing an uncomplicated 201 for victory, the Caribbean side slumped to 58 for four in the 12th over before the right-handed Holder arrived to stroke a classy career-best unbeaten 99, and take his side over the line off 43 overs.

    Importantly, he added 143 in an unbroken fifth wicket stand with the stylish Shai Hope who ended unbeaten on 49.

    All told, Holder faced 101 deliveries and crunched nine fours and four sixes while Hope counted three fours in a 115-ball innings.

    Medium pacer Carlos Brathwaite had earlier secured his first five-wicket haul in ODIs with five for 27, to restrict Papua New Guinea to 200 all out off 42.4 overs at Old Hararians.

    Captain Assad Vala top-scored with 57, Tony Ura weighed in with 37 and Mahuru Dai and Norman Vanua got 35 apiece as Papua New Guinea battled back from 82 for four, to get up to a respectable total.

    Finding themselves in a must-win situation after losing their first two matches, PNG got off to the worst possible start when they lost Vani Morea without scoring to the third ball of the match, run out by Holder off his own bowling.

    However, Vala and opener Ura, repaired the innings in a second wicket stand worth 62, as PNG rallied.

    The 30-year-old Vala struck six fours in a 89-ball knock while Ura, fresh from a superb 150 against Ireland, belted a couple of fours and sixes in a lively 45-ball innings.

    Seamer Kesrick Williams broke the stand when he removed Ura in the 12th over and the dismissal triggered a slide which saw three wickets go down for 19 runs, leaving the minnows percariously perched on 82 for four in the 19th over.

    Vala then anchored the second half-century stand of the innings, putting on a further 69 for the fifth wicket with Dai whose knock required just 43 balls and included three fours.

    Left-arm spinner Nikita Miller (2-25) trapped Dai lbw in the 34th over to end the partnership and Vala perished 15 balls later, caught at the wicket off Brathwaite, as the last six PNG wickets went down for 49 runs.

    Any hopes the Windies had of an easy run chase were quickly erased when Evin Lewis (9) fell in the second over, run out by a direct hit from third man while attempting a third run.

    In the next over, his partner Shimron Hetmyer departed for six, edging a catch behind off seamer Norman Vanua, to leave the Windies struggling on 16 for two.

    Veteran Marlon Samuels dominated briefly, lashing three fours and a six in a 21-ball 24, as he posted a brisk 37 for the third wicket with Hope.

    But his enterprise cost him in the 11th over when he slashed pacer Alei Nao to a widish solitary slip where Vala pouched a sharp chance.

    And PNG were back in the game in the next over when Jason Mohammed missed a forward defensive prod at one from leg-spinner Charles Amini and was lbw without scoring.

    An upset looked on the cards at that stage but Holder put those fears to rest, cruising to his fifth ODI half-century off 66 balls in the 32nd over before accelerating to take the sting out of the PNG attack.

    He romped into the 80s with a six and a four of seamer Chad Soper and was quickly into the 90s when he blasted another six and a four off the next over from Amini.

    With scores tied, Holder needed two for his hundred with one ball remaining in the 43rd over but could only manage a single.

  • Windies Women suffer second defeat White Ferns

    CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand- WINDIES Women suffered an 8-wicket defeat to New Zealand White Ferns in the 2nd ODI of ICC Women’s Championships at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln.

    The White Ferns won the toss and elected to bowl first, which proved a good decision for them.

    Once again, Hayley Matthews was the first WINDIES wicket to fall. She chased after a wide delivery and was caught at point for 18. Her opening partner, Kycia Knight’s stay at the crease was also short, as she was caught at first slip for 16.

    Captain Stafanie Taylor was joined by Chedean Nation and the pair started the urgent rebuild that the WINDIES Women’s innings needed.

    Nation was the aggressor of the pair as she took the chances to go after the New Zealand bowlers. Taylor was the tactician, calling for the singles and twos when they were available.

    The pair posted a 44-run partnership before Nation fell for 35. This then signaled the slide of the middle order.

    Deandra Dottin came in when both her Captain and team needed her hard-hitting and experience, but it was not to be. She gave Leigh Kasperek an easy caught and bowl dismissal. She fell for 10.

    Kyshonna Knight came into the wicket and was given a lifeline when she was dropped on 5 but was trapped LBW soon after for 9 to Kasperek. Then Merissa Aguilleira charging down the pitch for a single was caught short of her ground, runout for 0.

    Britney Cooper made an 8-ball 0 before becoming Kasperek’s third victim.

    Captain Taylor once again had to carry the batting for the team. She reached 86 before she was caught in the 49th over. The WINDIES Women, all out for 194 in 48.1 overs

    Bowling for New Zealand, Leigh Kasperek finished with figures of 4/44, while Lea Tahuhu had 3/42.

    In their reply, New Zealand got to the target with the loss of 2 wickets. Skipper Suzie Bates smashed an unbeaten 101 not out while Sophie Devine continued her good form from the previous match by scoring 80.

    The WINDIES bowlers struggled on an uncooperative pitch to which the White Ferns capitalized. Chedean Nation sustained a minor injury while fielding and is being monitored by the physiotherapist on tour.

    Bates was the aggressor as she struck 13-fours on her way to an 86-ball century. With her at the end was Katey Martin on 4 not out. The White Ferns reached 195/2 in 30.4 overs.

    Afy Fletcher had the best bowling figures for WINDIES Women, taking 2/47.

    Suzie Bates was Player of the Match

  • Windies A defy Hain hundred to clinch first one-dayer

    ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Part-time off-spinner Roston Chase had century-maker Sam Hain caught in the deep with three balls left, as West Indies A snatched a dramatic five-run victory, in the opening day/night one-dayer of the three-match series against England Lions here Tuesday night.

    Chasing a competitive 273 at Coolidge Cricket Ground, debutant Hain struck a brilliant 144 to rescue Lions after their innings lay in shambles at 165 for nine in the 36th over.

    He staged a last-wicket stand of 102 with Matthew Parkinson (15) which left Lions requiring eight from the final over with nine wickets down.

    However, the 22-year-old Hain then lofted the third delivery of the over to Raymon Reifer on the long-on  boundary, to end the innings with Lions just short of their target.

    Hain, batting at number three, produced a brilliant effort which required 122 balls and contained a dozen fours and five sixes.

    He was supported by opener Nick Gubbins who made 54 but Lions suffered a massive batting failure and the only other batsmen to reach double figures were number 10 Richard Gleeson (13) and last man Parkinson.

    The visitors were undone by 20-year-old seamer Keemo Paul who just missed out on a hat-trick as he finished with five for 49, while off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall claimed two for 38.

    Test star Jermaine Blackwood had earlier fallen short of a hundred with 99 while Cornwall made 44 and Andre McCarthy, 33, as Windies A rallied to 272 all out with a ball remaining, after opting to bat first.

    Captain Kieran Powell (24) lost opening partner Chandrapaul Hemraj to injury in the first over with the score on eight but combined with Blackwood to put on 54 for the first wicket.

    The left-handed Powell had faced 25 balls and counted four fours when he picked out his opposite number Keaton Jennings at short cover in the ninth over off seamer Paul Coughlin, (2-55) and Chase fell to the very next delivery courtesy a brilliant diving catch by wicketkeeper Alex Davies.

    However, Blackwood played responsibly, anchoring a series of partnerships to get Windies A up to a credible total.

    He added 44 for the third wicket with McCarthy, put on a further 68 for the fourth wicket with Cornwall before also posting 38 for the fifth with Jahmar Hamilton (14) and 40 for the sixth with Reifer (16).

    All told, the right-handed Blackwood faced 115 deliveries and struck five fours and three sixes, before driving leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson (2-33) to Jennings at short cover in the 44th over.

    Cornwall had earlier blasted six fours and one six in a 37-ball cameo before missing a heave and being sharply stumped in the 30th over.

    In reply, Lions had a strong start as Gubbins added 31 for the first wicket with Davies (6) before posting another 52 for the second wicket with Hain.

    The innings lay in good stead at 83 for one in the 14th over but Paul’s introduction triggered a sensational collapse which saw five wickets tumble for just 10 runs in the space of 27 deliveries.

    Cornwall claimed Gubbins to a catch by Odean Smith at short fine leg but it was Paul who broke the back of the innings in the 16th over when he knocked over Sam Northeast (1), Jennings (0) and Sam Curran (0) in quick succession.

    Curran survived the hat-trick delivery only to fall to the next ball, top-edging a pull to be caught by Powell.

    Slumping at 128 for eight in the 26th over, Lions were spared embarrassment by Hain who put on 37 with Gleeson for the ninth wicket before producing a valiant last-wicket effort with Parkinson.

  • Hetmyer, Gayle hundreds deny UAE

    HARARE, Zimbabwe, CMC – Man-of-the-Match Shimron Hetmyer and veteran opener Chris Gayle both struck imperious hundreds as West Indies overwhelmed United Arab Emirates by 60 runs to make a winning start to their World Cup qualification campaign here Tuesday.

    Choosing to bat first in the Group A contest at Old Hararians, the Caribbean side motored to a massive 357 for four off their 50 overs, with Hetmyer blasting 127 and fellow left-hander Gayle carving out 123.

    Hetmyer faced 93 balls and belted 14 fours and four sixes to mark his maiden One-Day International hundred while Gayle lashed seven fours and 11 massive sixes in a 91-ball innings which delivered his 23rd one-day century.

    Stroke-maker Shai Hope gathered 35 before retiring hurt with a knock to knee in the final over while left-hander opener Evin Lewis struck 31.

    In reply, Rameez Shahzad stroked an impressive unbeaten 112 as UAE rallied to 297 for six off their allotted overs, in an effort that gained the minnows plaudits.

    Shaiman Anwar weighed in with 64, Adnan Mufti got 45 while Chirag Suri hit 38, as UAE did well to bat out their 50 overs despite the defeat.

    Captain Jason Holder was the best Windies bowler, picking up five for 53 with his medium pace.

    The result was never really in doubt once the Windies notched their fourth highest total in ODIs, as Gayle and Hetmyer dominated the inexperienced UAE attack.

    Gayle posted 88 for the first wicket with Lewis who faced 49 balls and struck three fours before falling lbw to left-arm spinner Ahmed Raza in the 17th over.

    His dismissal brought Gayle and Hetmyer together, and they added a further 103 for the second wicket to keep the Windies in cruise control.

    The 38-year-old Gayle provided the early momentum, punching five fours and three sixes to ease to his half-century off 47 deliveries, before racing to three figures off a mere 32 more balls.

    He brought up his landmark in the 25th over with a single down the ground off seamer Mohammed Naveed, to become only the third batsman to score ODI hundreds against 11 different countries.

    South African Hashim Amla and Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar are the other two batsmen to have achieved the feat.

    Gayle then celebrated with successive sixes off the first three balls of the next over from captain and off-spinner Rohan Mustafa before eventually holing out to deep mid-wicket in the 29th over off leg-spinner Imran Haider.

    The 21-year-old Hetmyer quickly took charge of the innings, accelerating the scoring to reach his hundred off 78 balls in the 44th over. He added 77 for the third wicket with Marlon Samuels (15) and a further 65 for the fourth wicket with Hope before falling to a catch at the wicket off seamer Amir Hayat in the 48th over.

    In reply, UAE found themselves in early trouble when they lost their top three to slump to 69 for three in the 17th over.

    Seamer Kemar Roach had Mustafa caught at the wicket by Hetmyer for eight in the fourth over with the score on 19 and Holder struck twice, first claiming Ghulam Shabber caught and bowled for six in the 13th over and then sending back Chirag Suri caught behind.

    To UAE’s credit, however, there was no collapse as Shahzad and Anwar out on 144 to keep West Indies on their toes.

    The 30-year-old Shahzad counted nine fours and four sixes in a knock requiring 107 balls to post his second ODI century while Anwar faced 62 balls and slammed five fours and three sixes.

    Holder struck twice in the 39th over, removing Anwar and Mohammad Usman (1) and even though Shahzad and Mufti put on a lively 80 off 60 deliveries for the sixth wicket, the target proved beyond UAE’s reach.

    West Indies face Papua New Guinea in their second match on Thursday the same venue.

  • ‘We’ve come here to beat every single person’ – Jason Holder

    Windies won the first two editions of the ICC Cricket World Cup, in 1975 and 1979, and made the final of the 1983 edition before losing to India.

    For the team to now be battling to get into the tournament’s 2019 edition has been quite a slide, and Carlos Brathwaite, the all-rounder, has already said that the team “didn’t want to be here” at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 in Zimbabwe.

    Jason Holder, the Windies captain, agreed, and said he wanted his team to be “ruthless”.

    “You’ve got to play good cricket, you’ve got to play consistent cricket. Have to just urge and stress to the guys that we’ve to be consistent in all departments and we’ve got to hold our chances when they come. We’ve got to put teams under pressure when we bat, and when we bowl we’ve got to be ruthless,” he said in the lead-up to the 10-team qualifying tournament.

    Ireland, at No.12 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Men’s Team Rankings, are expected to be the biggest challengers in the group stage for Windies, ranked No.9, but Holder isn’t thinking of the opponents much – he just wants his team to knock everyone out.

    “We’re looking to win every game in the tournament,” he said. “We’ve got to do that by playing consistent cricket, we’ve got to take it step by step. We’ve got to make sure we take every game as it comes. We don’t want to look too far or get too far ahead of ourselves. As I said, we’ve come here to beat every single person.”

    Windies’ recent one-day international form has been far from satisfactory, as they lost a three-match series in New Zealand 3-0 in December 2017 and, prior to that, were beaten 4-0 in England in September.

    Despite that, Holder exuded confidence. “We’re really confident. Extremely confident,” he said. “I think I’m really confident because we’ve just come off our domestic competition back at home, and a number of guys have put in a really solid performance. They are confident coming into this tournament. I expect really good things from them, to continue their good form that they showed in the domestic competitions.”

    One of those men is Chris Gayle, whose ODI return has been a mixed bag. While he did get going in his comeback series in England, with scores of 37, 94 and 40 in three of the games, the New Zealand tour didn’t go too well.

    “He is an impact player. He is one of those players that can definitely take the game away from the opposition. He has proven that in the past, he is a proven performer at this stage. We expect him to win some games for us, help us get through this tournament and win this tournament,” said Holder.

    “Along with Chris, we’ve got some more impact players. We’ve got Marlon Samuels, Evin Lewis, and in the bowling department, we’ve got Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Nikita Miller, Ashley Nurse, I mean these are a few impact players. If these guys have really good tournaments, the others can support them nicely.”

  • Windies Women suffer narrow defeat in 1st ODI

    CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand- WINDIES Women lost by the narrowest of margins, 1 run to the New Zealand White Ferns in the 1st ODI of the ICC Women’s Championships at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln University. 

    Stafanie Taylor won the toss for the WINDIES Women and sent New Zealand into bat first. 

    The White Ferns got a solid start from their most experienced pair, in Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates. This pair posted a 76-run partnership before Bates fell for 44, caught behind off Hayley Matthews.

    Devine carried on, sharing a 60-run partnership with Amy Satterthwaite and then 63 with Katey Martin. Devine reached her third ODI century before she fell for 108 off 103 balls.

    The White Ferns middle order found it difficult to score as freely as the top-order. New Zealand finishing their innings on 278/9 from their 50 overs.

    The WINDIES Women had a tight bowling attack led by Captain Stafanie Taylor who finished with 3/54, followed by Afy Fletcher with 3/55 and Hayley Matthews 2/68.

    In their reply, WINDIES women lost their first wicket with the score on 31, when Hayley Matthews was bowled by Holly Huddleston for 18.

    Kycia Knight and Skipper Stafanie Taylor then consolidated adding 57 runs together before Kycia was trapped LBW for 38.

    Taylor was then joined by Chedean Nation and the 2 Jamaicans rebuilt the Windies innings with a 64-run partnership. Taylor reached her 30th half-century, then Nation fell for 29.

    Deandra Dottin and Britney Cooper played short cameos with the Skipper of 11 and 9 respectively.

    Taylor soldiered on, taking on the bad deliveries and quick singles when the chances arose. She fell for a valiant 90 with the WINDIES still 64 runs short of victory.

    Merissa Aguilleira then joined Kyshonna Knight in the wicket and rotated the strike regularly. However, Aguilleira fell for a well-played 20.

    Afy Fletcher and Kyshonna had a mix-up in the middle which saw Fletcher run-out for 2.

    Tremayne Smartt made 3, as Shamilia Connell and Kyshonna Knight had 4 to make off the last ball.

    Connell connected with a shot straight back but could only get 2 as the WINDIES Women lost by 1 run.

    WINDIES Women finished in 277/9 from 50 overs. Leigh Kasperek, Holly Huddleston and Amelia Kerr had 2 wickets each.

    Player of the Match was Sophie Devine.

  • Windies will look to hit fresh targets

    The Windies coach Stuart Law has said his side will have to be smarter in approach in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, which will produce two sides that will complete the 10-team line-up for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be played in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.

    “It is not going to be making 300 plus and then bowling teams out. It is going to be working out how to get to 180 to 220 and then deciding how to get the 10 wickets. To be honest, the wickets (in the warm-up matches) weren’t as conducive as we want to play and so just have to come up with different ways to go about it.

    “We do target 300-plus as we found in New Zealand, that’s probably a benchmark score these days in One-Day Internationals. Here, we have to lower that target just to make sure we are safe to play better cricket or make better decisions out in the middle and get the job done,” said Law in Harare on Friday.

    The Windies, along with Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe, had missed out on automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by finishing outside the top eight on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings at the 30 September 2017 cut-off date. The four sides have been joined by Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Nepal, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates.

    The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier begins on Sunday, 4 March, and the Windies will play their opening match against the United Arab Emirates, the side which nearly beat them in the second warm-up match on Thursday.

    “The strength of lot of Associate teams is based around spin and the quicks they have seem to be pretty reasonable as well. We can’t just go out and blast and dominate against these attacks. We have to be a little smarter to go about it.

    “Our bowlers have been consistently taking wickets upfront and we have a good mix of off-spin, left-arm spin and leg-spin. I think it is a well-balanced attack that we take into each game.

    “Our quicks are a bit more capable of getting the ball up at high speed, which the Associates don’t probably get to see a lot of and this is something that we can use to our advantage. As the event will progress, the wickets will spin more and we have quality spinners as well.”

    Law, who played one Test and 54 ODIs for Australia from 1994 to 1999, valued the presence of stalwarts like Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Nikita Miller in the side saying it was up to the youngsters to observe and learn from these players.

    “You can’t buy experience on a shelf. You need these guys in these tough conditions to stand up as well and guide the youngsters through the difficult periods. Then it is just up to the younger or less experienced players to listen, heed the advice and carry forward into their game.”

    Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons, who played in 26 Tests and 143 ODIs for the Windies from 1987 to 1999, shrugged off the ‘favourites’ tag, when he said: “I am not putting the ‘favourites’ tag on me. We have just come here to play cricket, we need to play proper cricket and win this tournament.

    “I am one of those who wants to win all the time, and I think these guys are the same. So, the more we will win, the easier it will get for us in the Super Six stage. You win the Super Six stage, you are in the World Cup as well as in the final. That’s how we look at it.”

    Afghanistan will take on Scotland in their opening match at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Sunday, March 4, and Simmons admitted he was not fully satisfied with his side’s performance in the warm-up matches.

    “We haven’t done a lot of things we wanted to do in the warm-up matches. But, at the same time, the boys have been sharp in Sharjah and I am sure the sharpness is still there, maybe a bit of jet-lag but we will get there. Hopefully, we will be able to put everything together come Sunday.

    “All of us are looking forward to the tournament. It’s good that it is being held in high esteem, but you have to come out and do it. We had two good outings in the warm-up games and now it’s about business. So, we are looking forward to Sunday.”

    The UAE coach Dougie Brown, who played 25 ODIs and two T20Is for England from 1997 to 2007, refused to predict the finalists, saying the warm-ups have shown that any team can beat any team.

    “It is going to be one hell of a ride in this tournament. Teams are going to be flying by the seat of their pants for a lot of it. There is going to be some weather around and that is going to affect teams and the decision-making that people make because pressure does funny things to you. We try to take pressure off but to give you the two teams to qualify for the World Cup, I couldn’t because it is that close.”

    The UAE will face PNG on Sunday March 4 at the Harare Sports Club and will then take on the Windies at the Old Hararians on Tuesday, March 6.

    Brown said his side’s first priority will be to retain the ODI status. “Obviously, we come here as a lower-ranked side and it would be wrong of us to just say that we are going to qualify for the World Cup. There are four Test nations here, they are probably, and quite rightly, thinking they have World Cup qualification very much in their hands.

    “But for us, retaining the ODI status is very important. In order to do that, we have to qualify for the Super Six. That said, there is a little bit of dream and all of us believe we might qualify for the World Cup.

    “Obviously at this stage, a lot of cricket has to be played and we have to play exceptionally well, but we have seen so far in the warm-up games, everybody can beat everybody in this tournament and all we need to do is to get on the right side of good fortune, make sure the players are playing well, which they are, have the confidence and maybe create a little bit of momentum and who knows?

    “But, retaining the ODI status is very much forefront of the thought, but who’s to say we can’t qualify for the World Cup.”

    Sunday’s fixtures (matches start 09h30 local time, matches featuring the Netherlands and Nepal will be classified as non-ODIs as the two sides don’t have ODI status coming into this tournament):

    • Ireland v Netherlands, Old Hararains (Group A)
    • PNG v UAE, Harare Sports Club (Group A)
    • Zimbabwe v Nepal, Queens Sports Club (Group B)
    • Afghanistan v Scotland, Bulawayo Athletic Club (Group B)