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In one of the biggest tournaments in the history of ICC's Development Programme, the 16 Associate and Affiliate Member (AM) sides will go head to head in the ICC World Twenty Qualifier UAE 2012 from Tuesday. At stake will be the two available places in the tournament proper to be staged in Sri Lanka from 18 September to 7 October.
A total of 72 matches will be played at five venues across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah from 13-24 March, with all matches free to watch for spectators. The first qualifier will emerge on 22 March after the 61st match while the winner of the 71st match, to be played on the final morning of the tournament, will become the second qualifier.
The two qualifiers will then lock horns in the tournament finale on the final evening and the side that wins the match will not only lift the trophy but will also join Australia and the West Indies in Group B. The losing team will complete Group A which also includes defending champion England and 2007 winner India.
The only time an ICC Development event of similar size, in terms of participating teams and matches, was staged way back in 2001 when 22 Associate member countries participated in the ICC Trophy 2001 (now known as the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier) in Toronto, Canada.
While Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland have earned direct qualification into the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 by virtue of its ODI/T20I status (earned by finishing in the top six of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier South Africa 2009), the remaining 10 sides have come through the 12 regional qualifying tournaments. No less than 88 AM countries featured in these regional tournaments.
The 16 sides have been divided into two groups of eight, with defending champion and top seed Afghanistan topping Group A and number-two seed Ireland heading Group B. Other sides in Group A are Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Hong Kong, Bermuda, Denmark and Nepal while Group B also includes Kenya, Scotland, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy and the United States of America (USA).
Afghanistan will open its title defence against PNG in the opening match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium while next door at the ICC GCA No.2 Ireland will square-off against Namibia.
13 Mar â€“ Afghanistan v PNG (1000-1300), Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Oman v Italy (1000-1300), Global Cricket Academy No.1, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Ireland v Namibia (1000-1300), Global Cricket Academy No.2, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Uganda v USA (1000-1300), Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
13 Mar â€“ Netherlands v Canada (1400-1700), Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Kenya v Scotland (1400-1700), Global Cricket Academy No.1, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Hong Kong v Nepal (1400-1700), Global Cricket Academy No.2, Dubai Sports City
13 Mar â€“ Bermuda v Denmark (1400-1700), Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
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