Zhang Lianwei had a new spring to his step as he teed off on the par-four first hole in the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic yesterday. Zhang was in high spirits after being named as one of the four captain's picks for the Asian Dynasty Cup team who will take on a heavily fortified Japanese team at Mission Hills in April. Zhang had even more reason to celebrate after learning that friend and playing partner Liang Wenchong had also received a wild card invitation, which probably means the duo will once again be paired in the defence of the title Asia won two years ago. 'It's great news for me,' said Zhang, as he prepared for the first round. 'I thought that either myself or Liang would get picked, but not both of us.' Zhang thinks that the second staging of the event will not be as one sided as the inaugural event where Asia romped to victory over a lacklustre Japanese team. 'I think we'll be evenly matched this time around,' said Zhang. '[Shigeki] Maruyama's presence is bound to have a positive influence on the Japanese team so I'm expecting a much more difficult fight this time. I hope I get drawn to play with Maruyama as I've known him for quite a long time, and he's a great guy. 'I first met him at the Asian Games in Beijing in 1990 when he won the individual title. We [China] placed fourth as a team. You could see then that he was always going to be a special player, and the Japanese team will definitely play well with him in the team because he will inspire them to play well.' Zhang's form has been indifferent over the past 12 months, and he lost his playing rights to the Japanese Tour after finishing the year outside the top 80 players on the money list. He finished tied for 21st place in defence of his Singapore Masters title in January but failed to make the cut in the Malaysian Open last month. 'I was playing with a new set of irons in Malaysia so my yardages were all incorrect,' said Zhang. 'I've now switched back to my old irons and I'm scoring much better again.' Thailand's Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee, who opened his account in Dubai with a three-birdie, three-bogey level-par round of 72, said that national team spirit was vital to the overall success of the team competition. 'I love to play with Prayad, Boonchu and the other Thai boys, so having Zhang and Liang playing in the team, and probably together will be a big help to the overall team spirit,' said Jaidee. 'I love to play team golf and I know that the other Thai players do as well. We've been looking forward to the second Dynasty Cup.'