Khurram Khan: Associates need to play more against Test playing nations

United Arab Emirates (UAE) play Ireland in what will be both the teams second match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. UAE competed well against Zimbabwe but ended up in the losing side, while Ireland beat West Indies.

Ahead of the clash between two associate sides, UAE batsman Khurram Khan spoke to the media about his side’s preparation and the need of associate teams to play more against quality Test playing teams.

Q: Why don’t you start with what’s the plan for the match? Is there any team composition that you guys are planning to change? How are you looking forward to the match?

Khurram Khan (KK): We haven’t decided the final sides obviously until we come back in the morning and see the weather. For the last two days it’s been wonderful weather. It’s been very sunny obviously. Everybody’s fit and doing well. We had three very good practice sessions here in Brisbane. Obviously, it’s going to depend on the morning, how it goes and then we’ll decide.

Q: Are there any specifics you need to improve on from the Zimbabwe game?

KK: Definitely I would say in the fielding. We missed three run-out chances. They were runs that have been given. Three or four boundaries. Every run matters in these kind of games because it’s a high scoring tournament so far and the grounds are very fast, so I think any run you can save, obviously. Partnership we’re looking forward to. I think we haven’t had a big partnership against Zimbabwe. We had individuals like 40s and 50s, so we’d like to have someone going big as well.

Q: You know very well you’re both associate nations, so do you think it’s a really important game in the World Cup so far as that is concerned, you both being in the shop window to show what you can do?

KK: Definitely. I think it’s going to be a very important game, obviously. They’ll be targeting us. We’ve played lots of games against them. For us, as well, from associates, we’ve played a lot of games and we know the weaknesses as well. So I think it’s a wonderful opportunity because it’s, you know, it’s a very important game for us as well.

Q: So now that you’re going to play against Ireland, and you have played against them so many times in the past, just tell us you said you have already seen some weaknesses in them. But what are the things that you’re going to target specifically?

KK: I think they’re batting side, and bowling has been their weakness, given 300 runs. Before this tournament they’ve played a few games with associates in UAE as well, and they played in Dubai and the practice game here in Australia as well. So, obviously they’ll be very up as an associate, and they know they have chances because they beat West Indies, so obviously they don’t want to beat out on us and the extra pressure will be on them.

Q: Just about the complete amateur side here. You have players that play first-class cricket, but given that you have jobs and so on and work in the airline industry and so on I know that’s caught a lot of people’s attention. But as a group how are you embracing the World Cup?

KK: As we’re here, enjoy our time here and be as professional as we can. Obviously we have jobs back home. And we have to start the day in Australia and reach back home, but once you’re here you completely forget about the jobs and what’s behind the scenes. We’re here to win the games and as many as we can.

Q: Your coach has played here. But the rest of the squad has got pretty limited experience here. What sort of local knowledge have you tapped into to prepare you to play here tomorrow?

KK: The wicket we have seen, and the previous records we have spoken to the analysts. I think it’s been very high scoring games here, and I think second they’ve got a very good record here chasing. Obviously, we’ll be looking forward to it. But tomorrow’s weather is going to play a big role as well.

Q: You haven’t visited here before yourself?

KK: No, I’ve been to Brisbane a few times.

Q: Just on the role of associate nations or qualifying for the World Cup. It’s quite a political issue behind the scenes, and Ireland are doing pretty well. Do you think that it’s important that countries like yourself do get exposure to the top sides? I mean it does make the tournament long, and people say it is too long. But do you think it’s an important role for associate nations to play against the top teams?

KK: Definitely, I’d like to see us play many more matches against Test playing nations. You cannot just expect us to come to a World Cup and do well without playing any other games against them before the World Cup. We have to have more opportunities playing against these teams. They are coming to our country to play cricket, we’d like to have some matches against them. Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, whoever is visiting there, definitely we have to have more games for associates.

It’s been a little harsh on associates that you expect them to do well when suddenly after four years you give them four matches and you want them to beat everybody. It’s not going to happen. It’s a slow process. Obviously it’s going to take time. There you have seen some of the games. They’ve been crucial and close games, and we’re looking forward to have some good games.

Courtesy: ICC