09 July 2015
Looking Back: 2013 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
The format changed, but the venue, the finalists and the winners didn’t, with Ireland and Afghanistan once again dominant
Paul Stirling, Trent Johnston, coach Phil Simmonds, George Dockrell and William Porterfield sing their song in the dressing room.
It was a 72-match tournament like the last edition, but the format had been tweaked somewhat from the 2012 edition. The 16 teams were divided into two groups of eight. The bottom three teams of each group played matches to determine positions 11 to 16. The top three teams from each group competed in the first-place playoffs to determine the top four finishers.
The other two teams were relegated to the fifth-place playoffs where they competed with the fourth- and fifth-ranked teams from each group for positions five to ten. Both the first and fifth-place playoffs were played in a six-team, single-elimination format. The bottom four teams then played in the quarterfinals, the winners of which competed with the top two teams in the semifinals. Playoffs followed to determine the finishing positions of the teams.
Finally, then the top six teams qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 2014, where they joined Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in the preliminary group stage, from which only two teams advanced to the Super 10 stage.
Ireland, Hong Kong, UAE, Namibia, Italy, Canada, Uganda and USA were in Group A, while Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Nepal, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Bermuda and Denmark formed Group B.
Remarkably it was rain in Abu Dhabi that meant the Group A games between Ireland and Italy, and Uganda and USA, were abandoned without a ball being bowled. Ireland won its six remaining games to top the group, and Hong Kong and UAE followed them at Nos. 2 and 3. Canada, Uganda and USA brought up the rear.
Afghanistan lost its first game, to the Netherlands, but with the Netherlands losing to Papua New Guinea and Scotland, Afghanistan still managed to finish on top of the group. The Netherlands finished second, while Nepal came third, Scotland and PNG came in at No. 4 and No. 5 with Kenya, Bermuda and Denmark at the bottom.
In the fifth-place playoffs, the Netherlands was the best on view, followed by Hong Kong at No. 6, Scotland at No. 7 and PNG at No. 8 to just both miss out on the ICC World Twenty20 2014 in Bangladesh.
At the top, meanwhile, Nepal and UAE won their quarterfinals against Hong Kong and the Netherlands respectively, but then lost their semifinals against the two favourites – Afghanistan and Ireland. Afghanistan beat Nepal by seven wickets and Ireland won its game against UAE by 62 runs, the comprehensive wins taking them to another face-off in the final.
Nepal beat UAE by five wickets in the third-place playoff on the same day as the final.
Ireland opted to bat, and went on the rampage straightaway. William Porterfield and Paul Stirling scored 68 runs in just 5.3 overs at the top, and though Porterfield fell for a 14-ball 27, Stirling continued merrily to score 76 in just 43 balls in an innings full of brilliant ball-striking.
Trent Johnston then added to the misery of the Afghans by adding a 32-ball 62, and Ireland finished on a huge total of 225 for 7. That was 68 too many for Afghanistan, who fought back through Mohammad Shahzad (38 in 18 balls) and Gulbadin Naib (43 in 19 balls), but lost its way in the face of the mammoth target. Johnston added to his exploits with the bat with returns of 3 for 34 to be named the Man of the Match in what would be his final ever limited overs appearance for Ireland.
Top 3 Standout Individual Performances
Gayashan Munasinghe: 3-19 for Italy v UAE
The chances of Italy beating the strong UAE team in this Group A encounter were minimal, but, led by Damian Crowley’s 59, Italy reached 158 for 5 to give itself a good chance of pulling off an upset. That, however, might not have been possible had Munasinghe not struck thrice in his first two overs to knock the top off the UAE batting. He sent back Mohammad Azam for a duck in the first over, and then got both Amjad Javed and Shaiman Anwar in the third over of the innings. UAE struggled to get going after that and ended up losing the game by 67 runs.
Binod Bhandari: 51* in 23 balls for Nepal v Papua New Guinea
The two teams were evenly matched, and when PNG scored 140 for 6 from its 20 overs, the match was expected to be a tight one. The PNG bowlers swung things their side’s way by reducing Nepal to 70 for 3 in the 13th over. But that’s when Bhandari, the Nepal No. 5, stepped up, and smashed a match-turning unbeaten 51, with one four and six sixes. Such was Bhandari’s impact that Nepal overhauled the tricky target in just 18.2 overs in this Group B match.
Wesley Barresi: 75* in 47 balls for the Netherlands v Scotland
Scotland is not a pushover, and when it scored 147 for 6, the Netherlands was probably not thought of as the favourite to pull off a win. But Barresi’s unbeaten 75 from just 47 balls, in which he hit eight fours and a six, meant that Netherlands not only overhauled the target, but did it in just 17.5 overs.
The Top Three Matches
Afghanistan v Netherlands – Group B
The Netherlands has been among the stronger sides at the Associate level, but Afghanistan’s results over the previous few years had marked the Asian side out as one of the two biggest forces at that level alongside Ireland. Thus, when the Netherlands triumphed by seven wickets in the first Group B match for either side, it counted as an upset of sorts. Mudassar Bukhari, Paul van Meekeren, Pieter Seelaar and Ahsan Malik all picked up two wickets as Afghanistan was bowled out for 90. Peter Borren, the captain, then led Netherlands home in just 12.5 overs, with an unbeaten 38 from only 15 balls.
Scotland v Netherlands – Fifth-place Playoff Semi-finals
Netherlands was at it again, scalping a higher-rated team, when a disciplined bowling performance and Wesley Barresi’s superb knock helped it beat Scotland by eight wickets. Despite Matt Machan’s 53-ball 61, Scotland reached 147 for 6 – a reasonable, but not formidable, total. But with Barresi smashing an unbeaten 75 from just 47 balls, the Netherlands was ahead of the required rate all the way through. Ben Cooper pitched in with 40 in 28 balls and Michael Swart added an unbeaten 28-ball 30, and the Netherlands went over the line easily.
UAE v Nepal – Third-place Playoff
UAE had given everyone every reason to believe that it had the wherewithal to get past Nepal and finish third, but at no stage in that playoff did Nepal look the underdog. Six UAE batsmen got starts, but the best was Abdul Shakoor’s 28 – scored from 39 balls – and with Basant Regmi returning 4-16, Nepal was in the driver’s seat at the halfway stage with a target of 132 in front of it. It got better for Nepal with Subash Khakurel scoring 38 at the top of the chase, and with Sharad Vesawkar’s unbeaten 29-ball 43 later on, there was going to be only one winner for this one – Nepal going on to win by five wickets in the last over.