Crucial ODI World Cup qualifying points at stake for UAE and Oman national cricket teams

Crucial ODI World Cup qualifying points at stake for UAE and Oman national cricket teams
Currently, Oman is leading League 2 with 40 points, having played 32 of its 36 matches. (File/AFP)
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Updated 02 June 2022

Crucial ODI World Cup qualifying points at stake for UAE and Oman national cricket teams

Crucial ODI World Cup qualifying points at stake for UAE and Oman national cricket teams
  • The pathway toward qualification for the 2023 finals is complex and arduous but associate members have welcomed the number of games on offer

Qualification for the International Cricket Council men’s cricket World Cup finals, due to be played in India in October and November 2023, has been underway since 2015. A new qualification process was introduced for this tournament, which is played every four years in the 50-over or one-day international (ODI) format.

Thirty-two teams are taking part in the final stages of qualification, from which 10 will play in the finals, based on the results of a series of competitions.

The 32 teams are divided into three leagues — a Super-League of 13 teams, a League 2 of seven teams and a Challenge League of 12 teams, divided into two groups. The results of the league matches will determine which teams advance directly to the finals, which are eliminated, and which advance to other supplementary qualifying tournaments through which they can qualify for the finals. Allocation to the leagues was based on ICC member status and previous rankings.

It is in League 2 where the greatest regional interest lies, with Oman and UAE competing with Scotland, the US, Namibia, Nepal and Papua New Guinea. Matches in League 2 started in Scotland, one month after the 2019 final in which England beat New Zealand at Lords. All seven teams in League 2 will contest a total of nine tri-series. Each team will host all other teams for two ODIs and will tour every other country for two ODIs, generating 24 matches. The other 12 ODIs are to be played at neutral sites.

Once each team has completed its 36 ODIs, those with the highest number of points will join the bottom five teams from the ODI Super League in the 2022 World Cup qualifier. The teams that finish fourth to seventh in League Two enter a qualifier play-off, being joined by the top two teams in the Challenge League, in which Qatar are competing. The top two teams in the play-off then progress to the 2022 World Cup qualifier, from which the top two teams will enter the World Cup finals.

Currently, Oman is leading League 2 with 40 points, having played 32 of its 36 matches. Recently, it had a setback, losing two matches to Scotland in the final over. UAE is in third place with 22 points after 18 matches, just behind Scotland with 24 points from 16 matches.

Between May 28 and June 15, two tri-series will be played in the US, which will host Scotland and UAE in one series, Nepal and Oman in another. The first is a historic event, as it will be the first to be played at the Moosa Stadium, Pearland, near Houston, Texas. It will also be the first occasion that four other international cricketing nations visit the US at the same time for back-to-back series.

Moosa has recently become the US’s second accredited ODI venue, joining Lauderhill, Florida. The achievement of this status represents a remarkable story for its Pakistan-born founder. He built a series of car dealerships in Houston, sponsored the US men’s team, before investing in the land to develop the stadium, which carries his father’s name. Given that the US will be jointly hosting the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup, Moosa is well placed to bid to be one of the venues.

The US men’s team will also be wanting to advance its cause in qualifying for the 2023 ODI World Cup in the forthcoming tri-series. Currently, it lies in fifth place with 16 points from 14 matches. It has not been able to play international cricket since September 2021 — an ODI series against Ireland fell victim to COVID-19 last December — so it is hard to judge if it is sharp enough to challenge both the UAE and Scotland. In preparation, US Cricket ran a 26-man training camp in April, as well as a Houston Challenge, in which a US Invitational XI played three teams made up of the best domestic talent.

As reported two months ago, UAE cricket has been through turbulent times. This was caused by the revelation in 2019 of match-fixing by some players, their suspension and the later banning of seven experienced players. A change in policy by the Emirates cricket board to extend the number of central contracts, to focus on young talent, both men and women, contributed to qualification for the men’s ICC 2022 T20 World Cup finals in Australia and for the women’s T20 World Cup qualifying tournament to be held later this year. UAE women are in fine form for this, having beaten Hong Kong in all four games of a T20 series to record their 14th consecutive T20 win.

Both the UAE and Oman men’s teams will be looking to enhance their reputations by finishing in the top three places in League 2, in order to enter the World Cup Qualifier. If so, competition will be strong, as they will meet Super-League opposition. The way in which those opponent’s positions will be determined has changed from previous editions, which was based on an ODI rankings table. Under the new structure, each of the 13 Super-League teams are scheduled to play four home and four away series, with each consisting of three ODIs, generating 24 matches per team. Scheduling constraints mean that each team will miss playing four of the 12 teams in the Super-League. The impact of the pandemic has led to postponements and the date for matches to be completed has been delayed until March 2023.

Currently, Bangladesh leads the Super-League, having played 18 matches. The bottom five teams have played between 10 and 15 matches, so there is much cricket to be played before final positions will be known. The pathway toward qualification is complex and arduous for all teams. Yet, the overall reaction of associate members was to welcome the number of games and quality of opposition afforded by the new qualification process, although the enforced delays will now put pressure on their depth of resources. The next 10 months promises to produce some exhilarating cricket by associate nations.


Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown
Updated 17 August 2022

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown

Usyk and Joshua hold public workouts ahead of big showdown
  • The Ukrainian and British fighters hit the pads with their trainers and spoke to the media

JEDDAH: Fight Week preparations for the Rage on the Red Sea stepped up a gear on Tuesday night when 12 fighters from the card held public workouts at Jeddah’s Saudi Airlines Club.

Main event boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, who meet for the second time, at the King Abdullah Sports City Arena on Saturday, gave fans and the media a first glimpse of how they’re shaping up going into their heavyweight showdown.

Usyk, who defends the unified world heavyweight titles, said: “I’m very pleased that I’m going to fight very soon. I’ve been watching Anthony Joshua for years already, so I’ve learned a lot and look forward to the fight.”

Commenting on everybody in his homeland of Ukraine being able to watch the bout for free, Usyk added: “I’m also very pleased about this as we all worked hard to ensure this outcome.”

Usyk and Joshua hit the pads with their trainers and interacted with members of the public and media during their 10-minute sessions, teasing what’s to come when they go head-to-head on fight night.

“Previous experiences are helpful, but ultimately, it’s all about what you do on the night. Whoever throws and lands the most punches wins,” said Joshua. “I’m focused, ready to do my best, and get the job done.”

“Saudi Arabia’s been very good to me, shout out to everyone here (in the Kingdom),” he continued. “I’ve had a good time, everyone at the hotel and gym has been looking after me, and it’s been like a second home,” he added. “I’ve good memories of here from last time out (against Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019) and it’s time to create new ones.”

Also on show was Zhang Zhilei ahead of his bout with Filip Hrgovic, rivals Callum Smith and Mathieu Bauderlique, as well as Badou Jack, Andrew Tabiti, Rashed Belhasa, and Bader Samreen.

Rounding out the dozen boxers were Ziyad Al-Maayouf and Ramla Ali, who were given huge support from those in attendance.

They will both make history at the Rage on the Red Sea as the first Saudi and female fighters, respectively, to feature on an international professional card in the Kingdom.


UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal
Updated 52 min 32 sec ago

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal

UAE president heaps praise on Emirate’s first woman to win World Games medal
  • Shamma Al Kalbani was Emirate’s first woman to win a medal at World Games

DUBAI: UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has congratulated Shamma Al Kalbani for becoming the first Emirati woman to win a medal during the World Games.

The president met Kalbani – who scooped bronze in the 63kg category women’s jiu-jitsu at the Birmingham World Games in July - alongside the other Emirati winners of the jiu-jitsu competition at the games on Monday.

The competition, which took place in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the most important global multi-sport events in the world.

The UAE grapplers won five medals at the championship, with Faisal Al-Ketbi winning gold in the 85 kilogram and open weight categories, and Mohammed Al-Suwaidi taking home silver in the 69 kilogram division. Shamma Al-Kalbani became the first Emirati female athlete to clinch a medal at the World Games, winning two bronze medals in the 63 kilogram and open weight categories.

 

 

He also congratulated the board of directors of the UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation and commended their efforts in developing the martial art.

In response the delegation thanked the president for his support of the sport in the country.


Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey

Saudi Arabia take football silver at Islamic Solidarity Games after 1-0 loss to Turkey
  • The defeat in Konya ends a run of 10 consecutive victories for the Kingdom’s U-23 team

Saudi Arabia’s footballers fell short of gold in the football competition at the Islamic Solidarity Games after a 1-0 defeat to hosts Turkey in Konya on Tuesday.

The loss ends the team’s run of 10 straight victories, stretching back to the triumphant AFC U-23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan in June, for the young Green Falcons.

The winning goal was scored by Metehan Altunbas, of Turkish club Adanaspor, in the 27th minute of the match.

Saudi’s players received their silver medals from President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, who is also the president of the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation.

The podium finish is Saudi’s second in the Islamic games across its five editions.

The team’s coach, Saad Al-Shehri, had previously won the competition as a player with Saudi Arabia in 2005.


Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled
Updated 17 August 2022

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled

Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifier definitively canceled
  • Even if the match were replayed, its result could not affect the outcome of qualifying, with Brazil topping the group and Argentina finishing second

RIO DE JANEIRO: Last year’s aborted World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Argentina will not be replayed, the two South American countries’ football associations said on Tuesday.

The original fixture, in September last year, was halted when Brazilian health officials stormed onto the pitch after seven minutes in Sao Paulo, alleging COVID-19 quarantine breaches by the visitors.

But with nothing riding on the match as both countries have already qualified for the World Cup, which begins in Qatar on Nov. 20, they had pleaded with world football’s governing body FIFA to cancel the match definitively.

“The Brazil-Argentina match will not be played,” the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and Argentine Football Association (AFA) said in a joint statement.

“AFA, CBF and FIFA have resolved the dispute at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”

Both countries argued that playing the match as scheduled on Sept. 22 would adversely affect their World Cup preparations.

FIFA ruled in February that the game must be replayed and in May it rejected an appeal by both federations to have the match canceled, while also hitting them with fines worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The two federations then took their case to CAS, which was due to rule this month.

Both countries qualified for the World Cup with several matches to spare in the single South American qualifying group.

Even if the match were replayed, its result could not affect the outcome of qualifying, with Brazil topping the group and Argentina finishing second.

Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times while reigning Copa America holders Argentina are twice champions.


Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener
Updated 17 August 2022

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener

Serena Williams gets door from Raducanu in Cincinnati opener
  • Raducanu broke Williams at the start of both sets to claim victory in what was her first and likely last meeting with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion

CINCINNATI: Serena Williams bowed out of the WTA/ATP Cincinnati Masters at the first hurdle on Tuesday, losing in straight sets to US Open champion Emma Raducanu as the end of her glittering career looms ever closer.

Williams, who last week indicated that she is planning to retire after this month’s US Open, was no match for British teenager Raducanu, who romped to a 6-4, 6-0 win.

The 40-year-old Williams left the court swiftly after the defeat without speaking to television reporters and did not hold a press conference.

Raducanu broke Williams at the start of both sets to claim victory in what was her first and likely last meeting with the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.

“I was nervous from the first point to the last,” Raducanu said. “Serena is dangerous and can come back from any situation.

“I had to stay focused. I’m so pleased I managed to keep my composure.”

Williams, winner of titles here in 2014 and 2015, was competing in only her fourth match of 2022 after starting her season at Wimbledon due to injury.

Raducanu announced her intentions from the start with a break to love of Williams and never let up.

The young Briton improved to 14 wins, 17 defeats since winning the Open last September from a qualifying start.

Raducanu meanwhile said she was honored to be part of the spectacle on Tuesday in what was one of Williams’ final games as a professional.

“We all need to honor Serena and her amazing career,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the experience of playing her and for the fact that our careers have crossed.

“All she has achieved is inspirational. It’s a true honor to share the court with her.”

Raducanu never let Williams into the match.

The young Londoner seeded 10th took a 4-1 lead in the opening set and completely swept the second, advancing on her first match point, an unreturnable serve.

Raducanu committed a single unforced error in the opening set compared to a dozen for Williams.

Williams’ elder sister Venus took a 7-5, 6-1 loss earlier in the day, losing to 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova.

In the men’s draw of the joint event, Nick Kyrgios began the last major US Open tuneup with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

The Australian marched through with 29 winners — including 10 aces — and three breaks of the Spaniard’s serve to reach the second round.

The 28th-ranked Kyrgios has won all 11 of his first-round matches this season and won his 22nd match since returning to the ATP in June after skipping the clay season.

He now faces good friend Taylor Fritz after the American crushed Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1.

“Physically, I didn’t feel the best, but you have to keep pushing, keep trying,” Kyrgios said.

“Alejandro’s a hell of a player, he’s got a lot of shots at his disposal. I had to serve well and dictate,” the Montreal quarter-finalist added. “It was tricky conditions out there, the courts are a lot more lively than Montreal, it was harder to control the ball.”

It marked a happy return to Cincinnati for Kyrgios, who was fined a record $113,000 during a spectacular meltdown at the tournament in 2019

“I’ve played some amazing tennis here and had some crazy outbursts,” he said. “It’s a flip of the coin as to which Kyrgios shows up here.”

Elsewhere, Spanish third seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced in his tournament debut, defeating American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2.

Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner celebrated his 21st birthday by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (9/11), 6-4, 7-6 (8/6).