Tantalising Reward Awaits Winner Of The 2018 Asia Cup Qualifier

The prospect of playing India and Pakistan at the 2018 Asia Cup is major motivating factor for the six teams involved in the Qualifier beginning in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Hosts Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will compete for one qualifying slot for the Asia Cup to be held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Sept 15-28.

The qualifying tournament winner are guaranteed a spot in Group A of the Asia Cup where defending champions India and Pakistan await.

"To play India and Pakistan, as a cricketer you look forward to it for sure and as a team we will put in our best effort," said Nepal captain Paras Khadka.

"You don't normally get this opportunity and all six teams here have the chance to go all out and everyone is going to push their limits and show they're not far behind. Let's hope we have a good tournament and come out with the best results."

However, Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath warned against looking too far ahead with the qualifying phase set to bring its own challenges.

"I think in tournaments like this it's very easy for teams to start thinking ahead," said Rath. "We're looking to take each game as it comes and not really think beyond the qualification phase as we have been guilty of in the past.

"We treat every game as essentially as a knockout game for us. Hopefully the results come our way."

Most teams are familiar with the Kinrara Oval's flat wicket with Hong Kong and UAE arriving early to familiarise themselves with the conditions.

However, there is a wildcard in the shape of the UKM Oval in Bangi which few international sides have even seen.

"We started preparing a month back with a young side and focused more on playing a couple of matches in Johor," said Singapore captain Chetan Suryawanshi. "Conditions and the weather is similar to Singapore but they have a new ground and the UKM wicket I heard turns a lot while Kinrara has a flat track."

Malaysia have brought Ahmad Faiz Mohammad Noor back to captain the side in a bid to improve on their failure to advance from Division Four of the World Cricket League in April this year.

"Playing on home soil is an advantage for us and we have tried to prepare the wickets as well as we can," said Faiz. "It's a great opportunity to reach the Asia Cup and it will be a wonderful thing for cricket in Malaysia."

Wednesday's three matches sees hosts Malaysia face Hong Kong at Kinrara, Nepal playing Oman at th Bayuemas Oval in Klang while UAE take on Singapore at the UKM Oval.

At the end of the preliminary phase, the top two teams in the standings will play in the final on Sept 6 where the winner qualifies for the Asia Cup.


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Filed August 29th, 2018