08 July 2015
UAE challenge for high-flying Scotland in tournament opener
Afghanistan has a tricky opponent in Netherlands to deal with on the first day of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
Scotland will be hoping to make home advantage count when it takes on United Arab Emirates in the opening clash of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at Grange Cricket Club Ground in Edinburgh on Thursday (July 9).
Led by Preston Mommsen, there will be a spring in the steps of the Scotland players after they defeated co-host Ireland 2-0 in a three-match T20I series last month. And, while a few of the warm-up matches on Monday and Tuesday were curtailed or abandoned due to rain, Scotland was lucky to come out smiling with two big wins.
Against Namibia, Richie Berrington’s brisk half-century allowed Scotland to coast to a six-wicket win with 22 balls to spare. Then, against Jersey, it rode on a fluid 44-ball 75 from opener George Munsey to reach 199 for 5, before Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask picked up three wickets each to earn the team a 69-run win (Duckworth-Lewis method).
Scotland is also buoyed by the inclusion of the experienced Kyle Coetzer, who was initially left out of the squad. Much will depend on the prolific skills of all-rounder Josh Davey, while the presence of Craig Wallace and the hard-hitting Munsey also works well for Scotland, which is looking to win the title for the first time.
While UAE’s first warm-up match, against Ireland, was washed out, it emerged the victor by 20 runs against Nepal (D/L method), in its second warm-up fixture.
Led by Mohammad Tauqir, UAE will miss the experience of Khurram Khan, who ended his 14-year career soon after the conclusion of the ICC Intercontinental Cup last month. However, Khurram’s retirement provides opportunity for some of the young guns to shine, and Tauqir can also bank of the experience of all-rounder Amjad Javed and batsman Shaiman Anwar. UAE’s attack is likely to be headed by pacers Mohammad Naveed and Manjula Guruge.
Scotland: Preston Mommsen (capt), Richie Berrington, Kyle Coetzer, Matthew Cross, Josh Davey, Con de Lange, Alasdair Evans, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt.
UAE: Mohamed Tauqir (capt), Fayyaz Ahmed, Amjad Ali, Saqib Ali, Umair Ali, Shaiman Anwar, Faizan Asif, Nasir Aziz, Manjula Guruge, Amjad Javed, Muhammad Naveed, Swapnil Patil, Ahmed Raza, Muhammad Shahzad, Abdul Shakoor.
Afghanistan v Netherlands
The second game of the opening day promises to another exciting clash where Afghanistan, which put up an impressive show in the ICC World Cup 2015, faces the Netherlands.
In its opening warm-up match, Afghanistan rode on wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad’s quickfire century to register a 28-run win over Unicorn, while Netherlands was handed a nine-run defeat by Hong Kong.
Afghanistan, which won the 2010 edition of the tournament, has a new leader in Asghar Stanikzai, who took over from Mohammad Nabi recently. The team will be aiming to build on the experience gained in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, and is one of the contenders to win the title.
Although Netherlands will also be vying to secure a passage to India, a lot will depend on captain Peter Borren, who has 45 T20I caps to his name. The experience of Wesley Barresi and Ben Cooper will also prove crucial for its chances. A major boost for Netherlands has been the inclusion of former South African all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe, who successfully earned a Dutch passport through his ancestry recently.
With 33 wickets, medium pacer Mudassar Bukhari is one scalp shy of becoming the leading wicket-taker in the tournament’s history. Netherlands has never won the qualifier outright but shared the 2008 crown with Ireland, and will be keen to go one step further this time.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Javed Ahmadi, Aftab Alam, Mirwais Ashraf, Sharafudin Ashraf, Hamid Hassan, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Zadran, Najib Zadran, Shapoor Zadran.
Netherlands: Peter Borren (captain), Rahil Ahmed, Wesley Barresi, Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Ahsan Malik, Stephan Myburgh, Max O'Dowd, Michael Rippon, Timm van der Gugten, Roelof van der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren, Thijs van Schelven, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart.
According to the format of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015, the sides that top the two groups will automatically qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, while the sides that finish second and third in each of the two groups will play cross-over matches with the two winners joining the table-toppers for the India tournament.
The losing sides of the two play-off matches will then play the fourth-placed sides from each of the two groups in cross-over matches with the winners completing the 16-team line-up for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016.
The fifth-sixth and third-fourth position play-offs as well as the final will be played on the last three days of the tournament based on which these teams’ seeding/groupings for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 will be confirmed.