ICC WORLD CUP QUALIFIER PREVIEW

Khurram Khan

The captains of Oman and UAE along with Afghanistan’s Raees Ahmadzai opened up to the ICC prior to their departure for South Africa where their teams will play in the ultimate World Cup Qualifier for a place in World Cup 2011.

“If we do qualify there will be a lot of local interest and that is going to be a huge leap for the game.”

Khurram Khan, UAE captain

"Preparation is going on very well. We started a couple of months ago with our new coach, Colin Wells. There are a lot of new guys in the team and things are going good."

"We have played against some of the teams like Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands. They are all good teams but we are preparing well too. Our fitness levels are improving and we have played practice games against county teams as a warm-up."

Raees Ahmadzai, Afghanistan

Raees Ahmadzai

"The team has worked hard to come through the World Cricket League tournaments and will be working even harder in the World Cup Qualifier. This tournament is going to be competitive as some of the teams are previous World Cup participants so we will not want to relax. We are not looking at our previous performances in the World Cricket League but concentrating on this tournament and I am sure we can make it to the 2011 World Cup."

"The best part is that the players have been playing as a team for the past seven or eight years and have a good understanding with each other. Our coach, Kabir Khan, has worked on our mental fitness and our trainers are also working hard to make sure we are not tired. Usually, the players got tired after a few games but now they are more relaxed. We were told to take more singles and play out all 50 overs. We are very confident and hopefully we can make big partnerships and our bowlers must also bowl in the right spots. I am also sure we are amongst the best fielding sides in Asia and this is why we won our three previous World Cricket League tournaments."

"We will play positive cricket and give a 100% in the grounds. If everyone gives a 100%, we should do well. It is not about looking at who is the strongest team so we are concentrating on our own performances. If you look at the previous World Cup, Ireland beat Pakistan. The game is unpredictable."

Raees Ahmadzai picking up a domestic trophy for his Loghar team

"The game is doing well in Afghanistan and our world ranking is also getting better. We are enjoying the cricket and the people are always asking as to when they will get to see us on television and they are very excited. We have received mails from all over the world showing interest in our progress and the people expect us to beat a few big cricketing nations soon."

Next Page “We have to play good cricket to win against good opponents.”