UAE head coach Dougie Brown wants his players to focus on reaching the Asia Cup before they even think about the prospect of facing India or Pakistan.
The 15-man squad will fly out to Malaysia in the early hours of Sunday morning as they look to seal the only qualification berth for next month’s main event in the UAE.
Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nepal, Oman, and Singapore all stand in their way when the 50-over tournament begins from August 29. Whoever prevails in the final on September 6 can look forward to testing themselves against India and Pakistan in the group stage in Dubai.
Considering the tournament will be staged in the UAE, Brown says his team are fully aware it’s an opportunity to play in front of their home fans but warned they have to earn the right to mix with Asia’s elite.
“There are a number of very good teams in this qualifying tournament in Malaysia,” said Brown. “We know some of them and there are teams that we don’t know much about. We have done our homework and got an understanding of how they play their cricket.
Two very short weeks until #UAE #Cricket Men land in #KualaLumpur for the #ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers 2018.— UAE Cricket Official (@EmiratesCricket) August 13, 2018
& our lads have been putting in some rather serious work on their fitness in the lead up.@ICCAcademy @ANIBDXB @tykasports @Phizz #GoUAE #LetsDoThis! pic.twitter.com/cSoaBzyXUo
“While the players can dream about playing against India and Pakistan in Dubai – which would be everyone’s dream, we need to ensure we take stock of every situation that we intend in Malaysia. We cannot afford a slip-up there.
“We have to be playing the best cricket that we can. If we take our eye off, we’ll find it very difficult to qualify for the Asia Cup. We discussed the importance of every single game and ball we face. We want to keep them focused on what will be in front of them in Malaysia.”
With humid conditions expected in Malaysia, the squad have been sweating it outdoors during their training sessions at the ICC Academy over the last four weeks.
Brown said it was crucial that the players got used to training in a hot climate before they flew out.
“We know it’s going to be very hot and humid in Malaysia and given that, we have been outdoors as often as we could,” the 48-year-old added.
“We are in a very good state at the moment. The easy thing to do was to play indoors and we could have done that if we wanted to. But we know how important this tournament is and we don’t want to leave nothing to chance.
“It’s really important that they do acclimatise as we know there’s no escape from the weather.”
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