Scotland v UAE, World Cup Qualifier, Final, Lincoln

Teams fight for seeding, lighter World Cup schedule

The Preview by Peter Della Penna

January 31, 2014

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Khurram Khan and Preston Mommsen with the World Cup 2015 Qualifier Trophy on the eve of the final, Scotland v UAE, Cricket World Cup Qualifier, final, Lincoln, February 1, 2014
Khurram Khan and Preston Mommsen have both led by example for their respective teams © IDI/Getty Images
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Match facts

Saturday, February 1, 2014
Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln (10:30 local, 21:30 GMT Friday, January 31)

Big Picture

The hardest part of the World Cup Qualifier may be over for Scotland and UAE but both sides still have something to play for heading into Saturday's tournament final at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval. Both teams managed to navigate their way through the Super Sixes to finish in the top two spots and in the process, secured qualification to the 2015 World Cup. Saturday's final will determine the teams' seeding for the main event next year in Australia and New Zealand.

The winner will join Afghanistan in Group A along with Australia, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, while the runner-up will drop into Group B with South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland, who won the World Cricket League Championship, Intercontinental Cup as well as the World Twenty20 Qualifier in 2013 to stamp their authority as the kings of Associate cricket.

At first glance, it may not appear to be too significant which group Scotland or UAE gets placed into, as each draw poses hefty challenges. Group A contains both host nations, a formidable obstacle for the Full Member participants to overcome let alone the Associates, while Group B contains the defending World Cup champions India.

However, a subtle yet important reward for the team that wins the final is a far less demanding travel schedule within the tournament next year. Qualifier Three, the winner of the Scotland vs. UAE match, will play their first four Group A matches in New Zealand's south island in Dunedin, Christchurch and Nelson before traveling to Tasmania for their last two Group A matches in Hobart. It means a relatively light travel schedule of just 2,084 miles.

The loser of Saturday's final will have to endure a far more taxing flight schedule, shuttling between New Zealand and Australia. Their adventure will begin in Nelson before heading off to Brisbane and then all the way to Perth before flying back to New Zealand again to round out their Group B matches in Napier and Wellington. By the end of their six group matches, that team will have traveled 7,456 miles. Professionals might have no issue with it but for a semi-pro or amateur squad like the UAE, a little thing like this can make a big difference.

In the spotlight

Stand-in skipper Preston Mommsen stepped up in a big way following an injury to Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer. After scoring 118 earlier in the qualifier against Hong Kong, Mommsen scored 94 in a 52-run win over Papua New Guinea before following it up with arguably a more valuable 78, steering his side out of trouble in a tense three-wicket win over Kenya to earn Scotland a trip to the World Cup.

Heading into the tournament, UAE captain Khurram Khan was the oldest player at 42 years and 206 days, beating out Kenya's Steve Tikolo by four days. He hasn't showed any signs of wearing down though, and is the leading scorer at the event with 547 runs, 146 more than Scotland's Calum MacLeod at number two, at an average of 78.14 including one century and four fifties.

Team News

Scotland entered the tournament on the back of a disappointing seventh-place finish at the World T20 Qualifiers. A shake-up occurred in the aftermath of that failure with longtime coach Pete Steindl stepping down to make way for Paul Collingwood. The move has had the desired effect in New Zealand. Scotland won their two pre-tournament warm-up matches against Papua New Guinea and Namibia before suffering a hiccup in the first official match, a 17-run loss to Hong Kong.

From then on though, they mowed through the competition by posting three emphatic wins over Nepal (90 runs), UAE (53 runs) and Canada (170 runs). Calum MacLeod was the catalyst for their success in Group A, posting 113 against the UAE and a Scotland record 175 against Canada to propel the team to the top of Group A. They extended their winning streak to six games with victories over Namibia, PNG and Kenya to reach the final.

Scotland: (possible) 1 Matty Cross (wk), 2 Calum MacLeod, 3 Matt Machan, 4 Preston Mommsen (capt), 5 Freddie Coleman, 6 Richie Berrington, 7 Michael Leask, 8 Rob Taylor, 9 Safyaan Sharif, 10 Majid Haq, 11 Iain Wardlaw

Even though UAE's array of left-arm spinners are their biggest strength, they have adapted to New Zealand conditions well. Pace bowlers Manjula Guruge, Amjad Javed, Kamran Shazad and Mohammad Naveed have all taken 10 or more wickets at the qualifiers. They're the only team in the 10-team event to have four pace bowlers take double-digit wickets.

On the batting side, they have a pair of explosive middle-order players to complement Khurram. Shaiman Anwar has one century in the tournament already and was the leading scorer in the World Cricket League Championship, 150 runs ahead of Ireland's William Porterfield and 30 ahead of Scotland's Coetzer. Swapnil Patil is the second-highest run-scorer at the tournament behind Khurram with 265, and can score quickly when the occasion calls for it.

UAE: (possible) 1 Amjad Ali, 2 Salman Faris, 3 Khurram Khan (capt), 4 Shaiman Anwar, 5 Rohan Mustafa, 6 Swapnil Patil (wk), 7 Vikrant Shetty, 8 Amjad Javed, 9 Mohammad Naveed, 10 Kamran Shazad, 11 Manjula Guruge

Stats and trivia

  • Khurram needs 11 runs to break the record for the most runs scored at a single World Cup Qualifier. The mark is currently held by Bermuda's David Hemp, who scored 557 in the 2009 edition to break the mark that had been set by Canada's Paul Prashad with 533 in 1986.

  • Khurram will be 43 by the time the World Cup rolls around next year, but he won't be close to breaking the mark for the oldest player ever to play in the event. That distinction is held by Nolan Clarke, who played for Netherlands at 47 years and 257 days against South Africa in the 1996 World Cup.

  • The Bert Sutcliffe Oval has also hosted two other notable ICC tournament finals, including one with a special place in New Zealand cricket lore. Australia defeated Pakistan by 25 runs in the final of the 2010 ICC U-19 World Cup. In the 2000 Women's World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, the hosts prevailed by four runs after bowling out Australia for 180 on the first ball of the final over.

    Quotes

    "You can't describe in words the feeling. I've been playing for UAE since 2001 and it is an amazing feeling to help my team to qualify."
    Khurram Khan helped UAE reach their first Cricket World Cup since 1996

    "We had heard the news that Hong Kong had a pretty convincing win, so it might have added a bit more pressure. But we wanted to win and we got over the line. It was a massive team effort."
    Preston Mommsen's team was determined to make their third World Cup trip

  • Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. He tweets here

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    © ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

    Posted by NALINWIJ on (January 31, 2014, 14:51 GMT)

    none of these sides have an arduous travel arrangement as Sri Lanka got in 1992 when they last played world cup in AUS/NZ.

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