Abu Dhabi: UAE will be looking to win against Ireland in their final Group A fixture of ICC World Cup qualifiers and keep all the permutation and combination out of picture to move safely into the Super Six stage on Monday.
UAE and Ireland, as of now, are tied on four points each behind league leaders West Indies.
With two wins from three matches for both teams, the only thing that gives Ireland an edge going into the encounter is a marginal run rate of 0.334. UAE have a run rate of 0.224.
The loss for any of these two teams doesn’t mean that they will be shown the door but then the losing team will have to worry about other equations.
That also only if West Indies goes on to lose against Netherlands in their last group encounter. A win for Windies would mean both Ireland and UAE are through to the Super Sixes, irrespective of the result of their match.
If the Netherlands go on to pull a surprise, then run-rates will come into picture and things could get quite tricky. More so for UAE as their main focus is also on retaining the ODI status that brings extra ICC funding.
With 12 Test-playing nations automatically given ODI status only four places were up for grabs. Netherlands, irrespective of what happens in this tournament, have sealed the 13th slot by virtue of winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship last December.
The battle for the remaining three places are between five nations — the UAE, Scotland, Hong Kong, Nepal and Papua New Guinea (PNG).
And among these five, only three teams who finish in the highest position at this qualifying tournament, will earn the ODI status.
“We are ready for the challenge and I think the pressure will be on Ireland. It is a crucial match for both teams as we both want points to move into the Super Six,” said UAE skipper Rohan Mustafa on the eve of the encounter.
“To be honest, we are very confident despite Ireland having players with good experience. We lost against them quite a few times but this time we will fight it out and win Insha Allah,” added Mustafa, who will not be inclined to tampering with the winning combination.
Mustafa not only has marshalled his resources well but has also led from the front. He hammered a 95 against PNG and then impressed with the ball with a match-winning five for 26 against the Netherlands.
He will be one player whom Ireland will be wary of.