Dhoni steps out, slams door shut on minnows' big match dreams

  • AFP, Perth, Australia
  • Updated: Mar 01, 2015 01:30 IST

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni dealt a huge blow to cricket's non-Test nations on Saturday when he warned that his world champions have no plans to play regular fixtures against them.

With controversy over the make-up of the 2019 World Cup -- where the number of teams is set to be slashed from 14 to 10 -- threatening to overshadow the ongoing tournament, Dhoni slammed the door on minnows' aspirations.

The 10 teams who will feature in England in 2019 will be based on a rankings system with the top eight as of September 30, 2017, booking their places with the other two slots decided by a qualifying tournament.

As all the Test nations play regular fixtures against each other in one-dayers, it will leave the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland struggling to make the tournament as the major teams are not obliged to play Associate sides.

After brushing aside the United Arab Emirates by nine wickets on Saturday to record their third win in three games at this World Cup, Dhoni said demands on Indian cricketers were too high to add any more fixtures.

"I don't see India playing any more games," he said. "We can't, unless we play two games in one day, which is just not possible. India can't play any more games."

Despite the magnitude of Saturday's defeat, UAE skipper Mohammad Tauqir said it was important for his side to get the opportunity to test themselves against the best.

"I think the more we play against these bigger nations, the more we learn and the more we perform," said Tauqir, whose team have been beaten in all three games although they pushed Zimbabwe and Ireland before losing narrowly. "The more we play, the better for the associate nations."

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been widely criticised for the decision to reduce the number of teams in future World Cups with claims that the tournament will become a 'closed-shop' for the games major powers.

It has also been seen as a regressive move for a body expected to grow the game globally.

On Friday, however, ICC chief executive David Richardson told AFP that the size of the 2019 World Cup has yet to be decided.

"I've learnt never to say never to anything. I'm sure the format of the next World Cup will be debated after this one has finished," he said.

Ireland beat one of the elite Test match nations for the third successive World Cup when they defeated the West Indies by four wickets in their 2015 opener.

On Thursday, tournament debutants Afghanistan beat Scotland by one wicket to record their first World Cup win.

"I'm pleased with the performances of the qualifiers so far, but the bigger tests are still to come," said Richardson.

"The question is what do you want the World Cup to be? Do you want it to be a jamboree of world cricket or the pinnacle of the one-day game?"

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