WC Qualifiers: Windies banks on Gayle, Samuels

UAE will expect Mohammad Naveed, who shone with a fifer in the opener, to lead the pace attack against Windies at the Old Hararians Sports Club on Tuesday.

The experience of Chris Gayle (right) and Marlon Samuels will be key to Windies' opener against UAE at the Old Hararians Sports Club on Tuesday. .   -  AFP

World Cup qualifiers have never been glamorous, but this time, it is different. The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier — the entrance exam to the event in 2019 — has become a crucial tournament for the cricket fraternity as West Indies entered the ring.

The two-time world champions slipped in the rankings and missed the direct flight. It will take on UAE in its first match at the Old Hararians Sports Club on Tuesday.

Batting a concern

Windies (now officially branded) hiccuped in the warm-up games and it would be keen to polish the rough areas. The batting department is a bit of a concern as the top order failed to fire against Afghanistan and UAE in the rehearsals.

Windies was dismissed for 110 and 115 in the respective games. In fact, it lost the rubber against the Afghans (D/L method) sending shock waves across the Caribbean.

Read: West Indies fighting for survival in unfamiliar territory

There will be pressure on Chris Gayle to perform. The experienced southpaw could only manage scores of 9 and 16 in the warm-ups. Evin Lewis, his opening partner, is a bright prospect and could prove dangerous.

Marlon Samuels, another veteran, is expected to anchor the middle-order. He scored a fine 34 against Afghanistan.

On the other hand, UAE will heavily rely on skipper Rohan Mustafa, who top-scored with 95 in its opener against Papua New Guinea (PNG) for a winning cause. There is also a Shaiman Anwar in the mix. The 38-year-old is the most experienced batsman in the team.

Balanced bowling attack

Despite the low total, Windies managed to beat UAE in the warm-up for its bowlers. Fast bowler Kemar Roach (3/15), along with spinners Ashley Nurse (2/21) and Nikita Miller (5/20), bowled UAE out for 83. They wouldn’t mind an encore. Devendra Bishoo, the leggie, has the potential to join the party too.

UAE seamer Mohammad Naveed stood out with figures of 5/28 against PNG. Mustafa would expect him to spearhead the pace attack and provide early breakthroughs. He also excelled in the warm-up game, dismissing Gayle and Lewis.

Also read: West Indies beats UAE in warm-up tie of World Cup Qualifier

Imran Haidar, the legbreak bowler, also troubled the Caribbeans and picked up four wickets in the warm-up. He is capable of challenging Jason Holder’s boys given another chance.

Squads

Windies (From): Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Marlon Samuels, Shai Hope(w), Jason Mohammed, Rovman Powell, Carlos Brathwaite, Jason Holder(c), Kemar Roach, Kesrick Williams, Devendra Bishoo, Ashley Nurse, Shimron Hetmyer, Sheldon Cottrell, Nikita Miller

United Arab Emirates (From): Rohan Mustafa(c), Ashfaq Ahmed, Ghulam Shabber(w), Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Muhammad Usman, Ahmed Raza, Amir Hayat, Imran Haider, Mohammad Naveed, Mohammad Boota, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed, Chirag Suri

Other matches

Papua New Guinea vs Ireland (Harare Sports Club, 1 pm)

Zimbabwe vs Afghanistan (Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo, 1 pm)

Scotland vs Hong Kong (Bulawayo Athletic Club, Bulawayo, 1 pm)

 

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