Coach Aqib Javed believes his side have a realistic chance of beating Zimbabwe and Ireland
United Arab Emirates (UAE) coach Aqib Javed is backing his side to register atleast two wins in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
UAE is clubbed in Pool B alongside defending champion India, 1992 winner Pakistan, 1975 and 1979 title holder West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe and fellow qualifier Ireland.
Aqib believes that his side can beat both Zimbabwe and Ireland. "We have got to be realistic. I spoke to the players about going there (to Australia and New Zealand) and proving a point because we are good enough to be there. It is not about participation, it is about pushing the other teams hard as you can. We have therefore targeted two wins. If we do well, there is an opportunity against Zimbabwe and Ireland.
"I think we can win against Zimbabwe and Ireland. On the other hand even teams like, India, Pakistan, South Africa or West Indies like give you a chance. One bad day for the big sides, you can make it yours. If given an opportunity at the earliest," Aqib told mid-day from Dubai.
Aqib is banking on his bunch of 'skilful players' to give other sides a hard time. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) though have had to make one change, right at the top for the World Cup. They have demoted regular captain Khurram Khan to the level of vice-captain.
The leadership reins has been handed to a local Mohammad Taquir. The 43-year-old Tauqir has previously captained UAE in 2010, but has been handed the reins again following a push to have a local Emirati as the captain. "We have gone for a local captain to promote the game and spread awareness across UAE about the sport. In fact we have two locals in the squad who are good enough to walk into the squad.
"The idea is to inspire youngsters in UAE about playing the sport at the mega event. Hopefully we might be able to convince a few youngsters to look at cricket as a career," said Aqib. Khurram Khan has been UAE's talismanic cricketer, so replacing him as captain was a tough ask. Aqib had to speak to his senior pro about the forced change.
"It is a bit hard one. But he understands the situation, because it is right to push a local. I spoke to him. I told him we are all expats and we must give something to local Emirati to look up and move forward. He is the most valuable player in Associate cricket. He was among the top seven batsmen of the last year in ODI cricket," added Aqib.
UAE players during a training session. Pic/Getty Images
The other Emirati in the squad is fast bowler Fahad Al Hashmi. UAE in Aqib's view has had the best build-up to the World Cup with eight months of training and playing. The players have been put on retainer contracts to enable them to miss work and play the mega event.
"Previously it was hard for the players. But for eight months we have put them on contracts. The reality is our players are not full-time players. They train in the evening. Overall it has been quite good," revealed Aqib.
UAE has had two camps including one organised as part of the ICC High Performance Programme with the likes of Paul Collingwood and Chris Read being roped in as specialist coaches. They have also had a tour to Australia last year to learn about conditions.
At home they played two series against Afghanistan and Pakistan A, so they have built up in right earnest. "Even ICC assessed us and said that the UAE High Performance Programme is the best among associate countries. The progression has been really good. I think my feeling is that UAE is the most improved team," concluded Aqib.