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The ICC has confirmed the remaining fixtures in the 2009-10 Intercontinental Cup, with everything leading towards next November's final, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates.
The next match will start on January 23 and sees defending champions Ireland facing improving newcomers Afghanistan in Sri Lanka. Two days later, second-placed Kenya will take on 2004 champions and current leaders Scotland in a top-of-the-table clash.
There is a total of US$250,000 in prize money for the Associate and Affiliate teams taking part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup with US$100,000 for the winners and US$40,000 for the runners-up.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event then evolved in 2006 to an eight-team round-robin and truly global tournament of four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the invaluable experience of the longer form of the game.
This year's format includes seven teams (Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands, Scotland and Zimbabwe XI), while the new competition, the ICC Intercontinental Shield, involves the four teams below that, namely Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in all three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event and Namibia in 2007-08.
The remaining fixtures for the second-tier ICC Intercontinental Shield have also been announced.
ICC INTERCONTINENTAL CUP
23-26 Jan - Afghanistan v Ireland, Sri Lanka 25-28 Jan - Kenya v Scotland, Kenya 17-20 Feb - Afghanistan v Canada, UAE 10-13 Jun - Netherlands v Scotland, Netherlands 11-14 Aug - Scotland v Afghanistan, Scotland 11-14 Aug - Ireland v Netherlands, Ireland 21-24 Aug - Canada v Zimbabwe XI, Canada 1-4 Sep - Canada v Ireland, Canada 1-4 Sep - Netherlands v Zimbabwe XI, Netherlands 2-5 Oct - Kenya v Afghanistan, Kenya 6-9 Oct - Zimbabwe XI v Ireland, Africa 13-16 Oct - Zimbabwe XI v Scotland, Africa 25-29 Nov - FINAL (five days), UAE
ICC INTERCONTINENTAL SHIELD
20-23 Jan - UAE v Uganda, UAE 2-5 Apr - Namibia v Bermuda, Namibia 5-8 Jul - Bermuda v UAE, Bermuda 18-21 Sep - Uganda v Namibia, Uganda 25-28 Nov - FINAL, UAE
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Assistant editor Sahil Dutta grew up supporting England during the 90s. Despite this, he still enjoys the game. His unrequited passions for Graeme Hick and, in latter years, Vikram Solanki gave him a stoicism that guided him through an Economics degree and a stint working at the European Parliament. He maintains the purest love for Tests and the whims of legspin bowling and still harbours hope that he could be the answer to England's long search for a mystery spinner. As it is, his most exciting cricketing experience was planning a trip to Australia for the 2006-07 Ashes with two utterly indifferent friends. Unfortunately his lung collapsed shortly before his planned departure and the pair were left to wander around from Test to Test, unprepared and clueless. Any comparisons with England are far too obvious to make. That cancelled holiday inspired an Ashes blog which led, via some tea-making at the Wisden Cricketer, to the ESPNcricinfo towers.