Canada and Namibia capable of upsetting plans of higher-ranked teams
Group A comprises Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Namibia, Uganda, USA and the UAE. Four Group A matches are scheduled for the opening day – November 15 – with Ireland, the top team from the World Cricket League Championship (WCL Championship), taking on Namibia in Abu Dhabi, and UAE playing Uganda, a side that qualified through the 2013 World Cricket League Africa Region Division One tournament. Canada will then play North American rival USA, while Italy will face Hong Kong in the fourth and final clash of the day.
Ireland and UAE are considered by followers of the Associate and Affiliate teams as the strongest of the eight teams in the group, while Canada and Namibia are the other two teams from the Pepsi ICC WCL Championship to watch out for. William Porterfield will lead an Irish squad that includes 11 players that were part of the victorious 2012 side, including many who feature in the current England county cricket set-up such as Tim Murtagh (Middlesex), Ed Joyce (Sussex), George Dockrell (Sussex), Paul Stirling (Middlesex) and Kevin O’Brien (Somerset and Surrey).
UAE will bank on captain Khurram Khan, who was the highest wicket-taker for the side in the WCL Championship. Shadip Silva and Ahmed Raza, both slow left-arm bowlers, will back themselves to make the most of home conditions. Meanwhile, there was a late change in the UAE squad with Asim Khurshid, unavailable due to personal reasons, replaced by Manjula Ansanka Guruge.
Canada will be travelling to the tournament with a mixture of youth and experience, including the returning captain, Ashish Bagai, who had a brief spell out of the game. Among the other players to keep an eye out for in the Canadian squad is Jeremy Gordon, the fast bowler who previously represented Guyana.
The Sarel Burger-led Namibia team includes accomplished players like Gerrie Snyman and Craig Williams, and will look to its newer crop to provide team balance. Louis van der Westhuizen, the all-rounder who hit 16 sixes in his unbeaten 159 against Kenya in the ICC Twenty20 World Cricket League Africa Division One back in 2011, will be one of the players to watch out for.
Hong Kong qualified by finishing fourth in the 2013 Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup. During that tournament, Hong Kong players Waqas Barkat and Tanwir Afzal topped the scoring and wicket-taking charts respectively. Hong Kong will be led in the tournament by Jamie Atkinson, the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman.
Italy beat Denmark in the final of the 2013 ICC European T20 Championship Division One by 18 runs to earn qualification to the tournament. Italians Gayashan Munasinghe and Carl Sandri picked up the most wickets in the tournament, which was contested by 12 teams in the region. Italy captain Damian Crowley considers Gareth Berg, who is coming back into the side after a break, a big boost for the side. Two newcomers, Madupa Fernando and Sujith Rillagodage, are among the others who may make a difference.
USA hosted and won the 2013 ICC World Cricket League Americas Region Twenty20 Division One tournament, thereby qualifying for the tournament along with second-placed Bermuda. USA's Steven Taylor was the top scorer of the tournament with 413 runs. For the WT20Q UAE 2013, USA will be led by Neil McGarrell, the slow left-arm bowler. Like UAE, USA has also been granted a late change in its side, with former captain Steve Massiah being unable to participate due to work commitments. He has been replaced by Fahad Babar, a 21-year-old right-hand batsman.
Uganda qualified through the 2013 ICC World Cricket League Africa Region Twenty20 Division One tournament, finishing second behind Kenya. The team selected for the WT20Q UAE 2013 is led by Davis Arinaitwe Karashani, the off-spinner, who was adjudged player of the tournament at WCL Division 3, played in Bermuda in May 2013.
The group stage matches conclude on November 24, followed by the playoffs and the final on November 30 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Group A squads
Italy: Damian Crowley, Dilan Fernando, Gareth Berg, Alessandro Bonora, Madupa Fernando, Tharindu Fernando, Dinidu Marage, Gayashan Munasinghe, Andy Northcote, Vince Pennazza, Joy Perera, Peter Petricola, Michael Raso, Sujith Rillegodage, Carl Sandri.
Canada: Ashish Bagai, Jimmy Hansra, Harvir Baidwan, Damodar Daesrath, Abzal Dean, Jeremy Gordon, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Hamza Tariq, Junaid Siddiqui, Kenneth Kamyuka, Henry Osinde, Hiral Patel, Raza-ur-Rehman, Rizwan Cheema, Usman Limbada.
Hong Kong: Jamie Atkinson, Waqas Barkat, Aizaz Khan, Mark Chapman, Daljeet Singh, Haseeb Amjad, Babar Hayat, Irfan Ahmed, Roy Lamsam, Munir Dar, Nadeem Ahmed, Nizakat Khan, Kinchit Shah, Skhawat Ali, Tanwir Afzal, Adil Mehmood, Mudassar Hussain.
Ireland: William Porterfield, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Ed Joyce, Andy McBrine, John Mooney, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, James Shannon, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson.
Namibia: Sarel Burger, Raymond van Schoor, Stephan Baard, Gerhard Erasmus, Shalako Groenewald, Louis Klazinga, Jaen Kotze, Bernard Scholtz, Nicolaas Scholtz, JJ Smit, Louis van der Westhuizen, Tobias Verwey, Christi Viljoen, Craig Williams, Pikky Ya France.
Uganda: Davis Arinaitwe, Hamza Saleh, Hamu Bagenda, Arthur Kyobe, Brian Masaba, Roger Mukasa, Abram Mutyagaba, Frank Nsubuga, Patrick Ochan, Richard Okia, Raymond Otim, Jonathan Sebanja, Mpho Selowa, Henry Ssenyondo, Charles Waiswa.
United Arab Emirates: Khurram Khan (captain), Saqib Ali, Shaiman Anwar, Muhammad Azam, Nasir Aziz, Manjula Ansanka Guruge, Amjad Javed, Rohan Mustafa, Muhammad Naveed, Swapnil Patil, Ahmed Raza, Abdul Shakoor, Kamran Shahzad, Shadeep Silva, Muhammad Shafiq
United States of America: Neil McGarrell, Timroy Allen, Orlando Baker, Barrington Bartley, Danial Ahmed, Akeem Dodson, Fahad Babar, Karan Ganesh, Elmore Hutchinson, Imran Awan, Muhammad Ghous, Japen Patel, Adam Sanford, Srinivasa Santhanam, Steven Taylor.