Scotland and the United Arab Emirates secured the final two positions in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after victories on the last day of the Super Six stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ), in Christchurch, on Thursday.
On a day when all three matches were do-or-die encounters, UAE finished top of the table with a 36-run victory over Namibia, while Scotland placed second following a nail-biting three-wicket victory over Kenya.
The two sides will now contest the tournament final, at Lincoln Oval, Christchurch, on Saturday.
The final will determine which group the teams will join in cricket’s pinnacle event, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be played in Australia and New Zealand from 14 February to 29 March 2015.
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson congratulated the two teams, saying: “Congratulations to Scotland and UAE for a tremendous effort in qualifying to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. 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.
“I would also like to recognise the efforts of those teams who came so close but did not make the top two. Hong Kong and PNG were in the running right up to the final round of Super Six matches and deserve credit for their fine performances at the tournament,” he said.
The UAE sealed its spot at the top of the Super Six table and at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 when it defeated Namibia by 36 runs at Rangiora Oval, Christchurch.
Electing to bat, the UAE set about scoring runs quickly, with a 100-run second-wicket stand between Amjad Ali (46) and skipper Khurram Khan (49), setting the pace. Shaiman Anwar (47) and Swapnil Patil (38) also added runs, before man of the match Louis Klazinga (five for 36) ripped through the lower order to dismiss the side for 263 in 49.5 overs.
Namibia was always slightly behind the required run rate in response, and, despite a patient knock from captain Sarel Burger (54) and contributions from Gerrie Snyman (48) and Nicolaas Scholtz (33), the side fell 37 runs short of victory after reaching 227.
The UAE will now make its second appearance at the ICC Cricket World Cup, having played in the 1996 edition.
In the second match of the day, Scotland scored a nail-biting three wicket victory over Kenya to secure a top-two finish.
After dismissing Kenya for 260 with three balls to spare, despite a valiant 89 from opener Alex Obanda (89), Scotland chased down the total with three balls to spare thanks to another man of the match performance from skipper Preston Mommsen, who scored 78. Opener Matthew Cross (55) and number eight Rob Taylor (46 not out) also contributed, with Taylor still at the crease to strike a flurry of boundaries to guarantee the last-gasp victory.
Scotland has played in two previous ICC Cricket World Cup events (1999 and 2007), and the captain was thrilled that they will be returning after failing to qualify for the 2011 edition.
“We’ve had a bit of an absence, so to get back in there is unbelievable. The dressing room is very, very happy to say the least.”
The skipper said his side will be looking forward to returning to New Zealand in 2015.
“I think we are very happy in New Zealand, to be honest with you. We get quite a bit of support, which is nice, and I think the guys have suited well to the conditions and the wickets.”
Reflecting on the final few overs of Thursday’s match, Mommsen said the batsmen had performed admirably under pressure. “The guys at the end were unbelievable, they held their nerve, there was still a lot of work to do, and it was a massive team effort in the team. Some good partnerships won us the game.”
The skipper was determined that his side will remain focused for the tournament final. “The final is a massive game for us. We want to leave this tournament as the number one team, so we will be going full on for that.”
In the third Super Six match of the day, Hong Kong recorded a comprehensive three wicket victory over PNG at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln. to secure third position.
At Rangiora Oval, Christchurch, South Island
UAE 263 for 49.5 overs (Khurram Khan 49, Shaiman Anwar 47, Amjad Ali 46, Swapnil Patil 38; Louis Klazinga 5-36, Sarel Burger 2-47)
Namibia 227 for nine, 50 overs (Sarel Burger 54, Gerrie Snyman 48, Nicolaas Scholtz 33; Amjad Javed 3-35, Manjula Guruge 2-34, Khurram Khan 2-45, Kamran Shazad 2-48)
Result: UAE won by 36 runs
Man of the Match: Louis Klazinga (Namibia)
At Hagley Oval, Christchurch, South Island
Kenya 260 all out, 50 overs (Alex Obanda 89, Rakep Patel 38, Collins Obuya 29; Safyaan Sharif 2-65)
Scotland 261 for seven, 49.3 overs (Preston Mommsen 78, Matthew Cross 55, Rob Taylor 46 not out, Richard Berrington 30; Thomas Odoyo 3-53)
Result: Scotland won by three wickets
Man of the Match: Preston Mommsen (Scotland)
At Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln, South Island
PNG 255 for eight, 50 overs (Geraint Jones 82, Assad Vala 57, Jack Vare 38, Mahuru Dai 26; Haseeb Amjad 3-70, Tanwir Afzal 2-33, Irfan Ahmed 2-34)
Hong Kong 259 for seven, 36.1 overs (Irfan Ahmed 90, Mark Chapman 64, Jamie Atkinson 36; Willie Gavera 3-53, Raymond Haoda 2-69)
Result: Hong Kong won by three wickets
Man of the Match: Irfan Ahmed (Hong Kong)
Image: The UAE players celebrate after qualifying
Photograph: 2014 © IDI/Getty Images