Scots' flying start

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The Independent Online
The second round of the Carlsberg ICC trophy for the 22 associate members below Test status gets under way here today without half of the top six seeds.

The exit of Bermuda, the United States and the United Arab Emirates has opened the way for Ireland and Scotland to dream about hosting games in the next World Cup, to be held in Britain in two years' time. Despite temperatures in excess of 40C, the visitors have been impressive, with Scotland, in their first tournament, winning Group D and Ireland finishing above the Americans in Group A.

The two teams are in different second-round groups and with continuing good progress they could yet meet on Thursday week in the third-place play-off with a spot in the World Cup finals as the prize.

The Netherlands, Ireland's opponents today, and Kenya, whom Scotland face on Friday in their last second-round game, are favourites to contest the final at the Tenaga National Sports Ground on Saturday week.

That match, however, is likely to be played in front of an audience exclusively situated in the pavilion. While Kuala Lumpur can provide the grounds - all the matches are being played on eight perfectly acceptable club pitches - spectator interest from the locals is minimal.

Two tents have been erected at each ground to provide the teams with protection from the unrelenting sun, and the lunches are served in purpose- built units with air conditioning at the whim of a generator on site.

Promotion of the sport, which was virtually non-existent until as recently as five years ago, has been improved by Tunku Imran, president of the Malaysia Cricket Association, who is also the son of the monarch.

Not only did he bring the ICC Trophy to Kuala Lumpur, but in his role as vice-president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, he was instrumental in ensuring the inclusion of team sports for the first time in next year's Commonwealth Games in Malaysia.

Every state has pledged to open one ground a year, adding up to 120 cricket pitches in the country within 10 years.

"Our development programme will be similar to that adopted by squash in the country and although it will take a few years for cricket to develop to that level, we have a wealth of raw talent available to work with," the prince said.

CARLSBERG ICC TROPHY Qualifiers for second round: Group A Kenya, Scotland, Canada, Denmark. Group B The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Ireland.

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