January 22, 2008


UAE confident ahead of Namibia clash

Will Luke
Arshad Ali on the attack
 © Eddie Norfolk



UAE might be languishing at second from bottom in the 2007-08 Intercontinental Cup, but they remain confident of reversing their fortunes ahead of their match against Namibia on Wednesday.

In three matches, they have only won one match - an excellent 138-run win over Bermuda last November. And it was this win which inspired UAE, and their captain, Saqib Ali, to believe in themselves. UAE were dismissed for a lowly 143, conceding a first-innings deficit of 168, but fought back brilliantly on days three and four to win by 138 runs.

"It was an unbelievable win for us," Saqib said. "That victory really gave us the belief that we can do well in this competition. I think we have what it takes. We have plenty of experience with people like Khurram Khan and Arshad Ali and there is a good feeling in the squad."

In spite of their bullishness, UAE's preparations for Wednesday's match have been far from ideal, with heavy rains sweeping the region. "Also it is a new pitch at Sharjah Stadium," Saqib said, "so we don't really know how it is going to play."

Saqib took over the reins from Arshadfor the Bermuda match, and the new-found freedom paid immediate dividends for Arshad whose mammoth 185 set-up UAE's matchwinning 449.

"I decided that I wanted to play as just an ordinary player, not captain," Arshad said. "It is easier for me that way and since I gave up the captaincy I have been doing very well, scoring runs and taking wickets."

Namibia, meanwhile, come into the match following an impressive eight-wicket win over Canada in October. Their win was set-up by a fine 163 from Bjorn Kotze, but neither his brother, Deon, or Louis Klazinga, who took 6 for 82 in the match, have made the trip. UAE, though, will not be underestimating Namibia.

"We are wary of Namibia. We know they have a good side with plenty of experience and lots of batting," Saqib said. "It will be very interesting. I am looking forward to it."

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Will Luke
Assistant editor Will opted against a lifetime of head-bangingly dull administration in the NHS, where he had served for two years. In 2005 came a break at Cricinfo where he slotted right in as a ferociously enthusiastic tea drinker and maker, with a penchant for using "frankly" and "marvellous". He also runs The Corridor, a cricket blog where he can be found ranting and raving about all things - some even involving the sport. He is a great-great nephew of Sir Jack Newman, the former Wellingtonian bowler who took two wickets at 127 apiece for New Zealand.

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