Calcutta: Scotland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have secured the final two positions in the 2015 World Cup after recording victories, on the final day of the Super Six stage of the World Cup Qualifier, in Christchurch, on Thursday.
While Scotland edged past Kenya at the Hagley Oval to clinch their third World Cup spot — 1999 and 2007 being the previous two occasions — UAE beat Namibia by 36 runs at the Rangiora Oval to book their second berth in the marquee event to be hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand.
The last time UAE played in the World Cup was way back in 1996.
The two sides will now contest in the final of the qualifying event, to be played at the Lincoln Oval, Christchurch, on Saturday.
At the Hagley Oval, Rob Taylor shrugged off his poor form and hit an unbeaten 46 off 37 balls to help Scotland reach the 261-run target with three balls to spare.
Matty Cross (55) and captain Preston Mommsen (78) also contributed, but it was Taylor’s late assault that earned the Scots a thrilling three-wicket win.
Mommsen was all praise for his side.
“It is absolutely awesome. We have worked really hard to get to this position and to actually get over the line is unbelievable. The feeling is immense.
“We’ve had a bit of an absence (from the World Cup). So, to get back in there is unbelievable. The dressing room is very, very happy to say the least.
“The final is a massive game for us. We want to leave this tournament as the No. 1 team. So we will go all out for that,” an elated Mommsen said.
At the Rangiora Oval, UAE restricted Namibia to 227 for nine after putting up 263 runs on board. Amjad Javed, who took three for 35, was the pick of the UAE bowlers who first denied Namibia a flying start and claimed wickets at crucial times.
“You can’t describe in words the feeling. I’ve been playing for UAE since 2001 and it is an amazing feeling to help my team to qualify,” said captain Khurram Khan.
“It’s been very, very hard to make this far. Most of us are part-time cricketers — we are not professionals. This is for everyone who trusted us and believed in us,” he added.
According to UAE coach and former Pakistan pacer Aaqib Javed, qualifying for the World Cup was “as much a mental battle as a physical one” for his team.
“It was a tough task coming to New Zealand, and making the top two.
“The players had in their mind that the pitches would have lot of sideways movement. But in seven games, our batsmen have done really well. And now they feel these conditions are good for cricket.
“There won’t be any hurdle coming back to play in Australia and New Zealand. They’re really very excited now,” Aaqib expressed.
ICC chief executive David Richardson also lauded the performance of the two teams.
“Congratulations to Scotland and UAE for a tremendous effort. It has been a tough tournament, one in which every game counts, and both teams have performed remarkably well to finish in the top two.”
The winner of Saturday’s final will join Australia, England, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Group A, while the runners-up will be clubbed in Group B alongside India, South Africa, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland.