TEAMS PREPARE TO BATTLE FOR PROMOTION IN PEPSI WORLD CRICKET LEAGUE DIVISION 4 2014



The six captains participating in Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 4 have spoken of their excitement ahead of the start of the event, which commences in Singapore on 21 June.

During the week-long tournament, Italy, Denmark, Jersey, Malaysia, Oman and host Singapore will lock horns for the chance to progress to WCL Div. 3, which will be played in Uganda from 26 October.

As the teams start to arrive, their focus will be on acclimatising to the tropical conditions as quickly as possible.

Host Singapore will be looking to seize the opportunity after missing out on promotion from the previous WCL Div.4 event on net run rate. With home conditions in its favour, captain Saad Khan Janjua and his unit would be feeling confident of their strong chances.

Singapore also hosted the latest edition of the ACC Elite League earlier this month, where it finished on top to secure promotion into the ACC Premier League. It will be looking to continue its good form and further its success by gaining another promotion.

Neighbouring rival Malaysia enters this tournament after recently winning promotion from WCL Div. 5, in which it came second behind Jersey. After causing an upset against Afghanistan in the ACC Premier League, captain Ahmad Faiz feels his side has unlocked new levels of self-belief. “We have a strong team but we misjudged our strength. Now, we all realize that we can beat anybody as a unit.”

The 26-year-old has kept no secret as to how much it means to him and his team to perform well in Singapore: “WCL Div. 4 would be the most important tournament for me as a Malaysia cricket player, in my career, my life and I can say my bone. We have worked hard and have faced hard days together in and outside the field.”

The other side to be promoted from WCL Div. 5, Jersey, also feels confident after a flawless performance in that tournament, held in Malaysia earlier this year, where it did not lose a match. Captain Peter Gough feels that the experience helped his side adapt to hot weather conditions: “It was excellent to become accustomed to playing in the heat and learning how to really enjoy it and understanding how to manage ourselves through the tournament.”

Jersey will be looking to count this tournament as another step in its climb upwards. “It has been an incredible experience to be part of a young group that fought really hard to stay in WCL Div. 6 back in 2011 and has now earned the right to compete again for WCL Div. 4.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Italy and Oman are appearing in WCL Div. 4 after being relegated from WCL Div. 3 last year, and both will be looking to bounce straight back.

Oman captain Sultan Ahmed, who was vice-captain in his side’s last campaign, is confident his team can learn from the experience: “It was disappointing for the Oman team when we were relegated to Division 4. We have now gone back on our individual performances and worked on our weak points.”

The 37-year-old wicketkeeper and lower order batsman is determined to see his team regain a position in WCL Div. 3: “In my current capacity as captain, I wish to perform and lead from the front and get the support of my team mates to ensure a place back in Division 3.”

With Oman having won three games at the recent ACC Premier League 2014, the captain feels his side has gained in confidence: “It was satisfying having coming up victorious in the first three matches against fancied teams, which boosted the morale of the team, which will no doubt be an advantageous for the WCL Div. 4.”

Italy too comes into the tournament with a good run of performances, having finished ninth at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013. Captain Damian Crowley said of his side’s performance: “We exceeded expectations when we made it into the knock out stages, and had good performances against some high performance countries. We are hoping to do the same this tournament.”

The 25-year-old wicketkeeper feels his team is well prepared despite the tropical conditions in which the tournament will be played: “The squad has been in Sri Lanka for a training camp to prepare for the tournament. Personally, I'm excited for an opportunity for the Italian national team to progress into WCL Division 3.”

Denmark, who, like Singapore, missed out on promotion in the last WCL Div. 4 event, will be looking to learn from its previous experiences against the leading Associate and Affiliate teams. Captain Michael Pedersen says his side has seen first-hand how disciplined the leading sides are. “If I have to point out one thing it is discipline. We want to be a bit more disciplined in everything we do so we are able to put pressure on our opponents.”

The 28 year old off-spinner felt his side had worked hard off the field, and will be looking to play hard: “As a captain, the tournament presents a great opportunity for our young team to go out and show world cricket what we are capable of.”

The tournament kicks off Saturday, 21 June with Italy and Oman looking to stamp their authority early on at the Singapore Cricket Club. At the same time, the two teams promoted from WCL Div. 5, Jersey and Malaysia, will battle it out at the India Association, and host Singapore will face off against Denmark at Kallang.

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Filed June 20th, 2014