Harare, June 17 () Each match of Men’s ODI World Cup qualifiers will be high stakes, with ten teams contesting for two places at the global showpiece event set to be held later this year in India.
One of the ten teams in contention for those two spots is 1996 champions Sri Lanka, who will be kicking off their Group B campaign in Bulawayo against the United Arab Emirates on Monday, and captain Dasun Shanaka said his team is aware that any opposition can’t be taken lightly in a tournament where ODI World Cup spots are at stake.
“We are very confident of doing well in the Qualifiers and used the two warm-ups to get our boys into match situations, and the team is looking forward to the games coming up. We also know that every team taking part in this competition is aiming to win, which means that no opponent can be taken lightly, especially in a crucial tournament such as this, and we are well aware of it,” Shanaka told ICC.
UAE, a side full of enthusiastic youngsters, enter the qualifiers on the back of top-two finish in the Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2023 in Namibia and captain Mohammad Waseem is backing his young players to showcase their skills in the tournament.
“We are fully focused and committed on giving our absolute best in the tournament. We are aware of what lies ahead for us in terms of the pedigree and experience of our opponents. We also have some incredibly talented youngsters in Ali Naseer, Jawadullah and Aayan Afzal Khan and I have no doubt that they will showcase their talent and prove their worth to the side in these big games,” Waseem said.
Meanwhile, Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie feels his team will have to be at their best all the time to put a strong challenge against other teams in their group.
“We are really looking forward to playing cricket in Zimbabwe, it is a great place to play. We were here in January, playing some ODIs and T20s. Having played in this competition before in 2018 I know how cutthroat it is so we have to be at our best for a long period of time,” Balbirnie said.
While ODI World Cup qualification is on everyone’s minds, Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood also has making the people back home take up the sport in huge numbers, in his sight.
“We have been preparing well to acclimatise and adapt to the conditions in Zimbabwe. We certainly are looking forward to playing the highest order of competitive cricket at this marquee event and will make our country proud. The Qualifiers is certainly a platform for us as well to inspire the sport of cricket in Oman,” Maqsood stated.
Scotland captain Richie Berrington feels his team has a mix of experience and youth to be at their best in the competition.
“Preparations in Harare have gone well, and we appreciate the hospitality so far. We are aware that each game will have its own challenges, however we have a great mix of experience and youth within the squad to be successful in the tournament,” said Berrington.