Bermuda must win basement battle
United Arab Emirates (UAE) go head-to-head with Bermuda in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in Abu Dhabi in what is the basement battle in the first half of the 2007-08 competition.
The priority for UAE is not this match - two defeats in two matches have put them out of the reckoning already - but it will be a welcome warm-up for the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia later this month.
Bermuda, too, have no more than pride to play for after three hefty defeats. A side that 18 months ago appeared on the brink of something special are now the whipping boys of the leading Associates and run the real risk of losing their one-day status in 2009. Nothing more than a win here will satisfying the growing number of critics back home.
"Both the events are extremely important for our development and growth as a cricketing nation but if I have to pick the most important one, I will go for the World Cricket League because it gives us an opportunity to inch closer to our dreams of playing in the World Cup," said newly-appointed UAE captain Saqib Ali.
"But we are aware of the significance of ICC Intercontinental Cup ... it will not only give us an opportunity to get back in contention for a place in the final, it will give us the much-needed practice ahead of the Namibian tour. The boys have been playing club cricket but there is no replacement for international cricket. All of us want to make the best use of the Bermuda match."
"Obviously it goes to our advantage that we will be playing against a team which is low in confidence after a series of big defeats," he said. "But that doesn't mean we start underestimating them. We will have to respect them and play as hard as possible. Complacency can be our biggest enemy and we have to avoid that situation."
Ali was in no doubt about the task facing his side, but said they all took heart from what they had learned in Canada in August. "We lost badly in Canada because we had traveled to Toronto with almost no practice and to compound our problems we played in alien conditions where the ball seamed and swung. However, Abu Dhabi is our home ground and the conditions are not new to us. We have played a lot of cricket here and I am sure we will be able to utilize the home advantage.
"The wicket basically suits the batsmen more than the bowlers but there is enough for the bowlers if they bend their backs or stick of basics. However, the team that fields well will have an advantage because we have to hold every catch and convert half-chances when you playing in conditions that are more suited to batsmen."