Australia captain Tim Paine has sights set on series win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

Usman Khawaja was one of the main reasons Australia were able to draw the first Test in Dubai. He got a 50 in the first innings and followed it up with a brilliant 141 in the second innings. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Australia captain Tim Paine has sights set on series win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

LONDON: They may have only narrowly avoided defeat in the first Test but Australia skipper Tim Paine said his side only have eyes on victory over Pakistan in the series decider in Abu Dhabi.
The second of the two-Test showdown gets underway today just days after a brilliant rearguard action from Paine and Usman Khawaja prevented Pakistan from getting a well-deserved win in Dubai.
Those last-day heroics have boosted the tourists who have now targeted a first series win in Asia since 2011.
“We want to win every series we are involved in,” Paine said. “We are focusing on what we do and if we can do well for five days then we have a really good chance of winning it.
“We are reasonably confident. After the last few days we got a little bit of relief and a little bit of mileage, so we know if we play our best cricket we have got a chance to win this Test match.
“We are coming into this Test with a bit more momentum and guys know what to expect in these conditions a bit more,” Paine said.
The trying conditions of the pitches and hot weather in Asia have stopped the Baggy Greens from winning a series since they beat Sri Lanka 1-0 seven years ago.
Since then they have lost 4-0 in India (2013), 2-0 in UAE to Pakistan (2014), 3-0 in Sri Lanka (2016), 2-1 in India (2017) and drew 1-1 in Bangladesh last year.
Paine admitted Pakistan were a “very good team” and his side would have to be at their bests.
“They have some good batters, particularly in these conditions. We know what we are up against and we know they are an excellent team and even better in these conditions.”
Pakistan have been forced into making two changes after opener Imam-ul-Haq fractured his finger in Dubai. He will be replaced by Fakhar Zaman for his first Test.
They also left out fast bowler Wahab Riaz, who went wicketless in the first Test, and will pick one from uncapped pacer Mir Hamza or leg-spinner Shadab Khan.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka great Sanath Jayasuriya became one of the most high-profile figures embroiled in corruption in cricket when he was charged yesterday with two counts of disrupting an investigation.
The 49-year-old has 14 days to respond to the charge. It is not known which matches the charges relate to, or if anyone else is involved.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”