The race to feature at this year's ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 is heating up and six teams will get the chance to inch one step closer when they do battle in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off in Namibia that commences on Sunday.
The top two teams from the play-off will progress through to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Qualifier to be held in Zimbabwe in the middle of the year, with six players that are set to be pivotal for their teams during the upcoming event.
Canada: Kaleem Sana
If Canada are to upset some of their more fancied rivals at the event, then it is imperative that Sana makes early inroads while bowling with the new ball.
Sana has showed the ability to swing the ball in the past and the left-armer will be looking to do that once again to give Canada the best chance of finishing in the top two places in the standings.
The 29-year-old did collect a five-wicket haul for Canada during their final Challenge League game at the end of last year and will arrive in Namibia full of confidence as a result.
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Jersey: Asa Tribe
The teenage all-rounder has been earmarked as a player to watch for some time now and his promise may come to fruition during this event if given the chance to shine.
Tribe is an aggressive top-order batter and more than capable spin bowler, and the 18-year-old could be ready to show his full capabilities in this inexperienced Jersey side.
While Jersey don't have the experience of playing as much international cricket as some of their rivals at this event do, players like Tribe may be able to use that to their advantage should their opponents underestimate them.
Namibia: Gerhard Erasmus
Erasmus was the leading run-scorer for all teams during the recently completed ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 event, with the right-hander amassing a whopping 1298 runs at an average of 43.
The 27-year-old is generally a model of consistency with the bat and a more than handy off-spin option with the ball, but it is perhaps his tactical nous as captain that is his biggest strength.
Erasmus is also the highest-rated ODI batter at the event at #36 in the world, and will yet again be pivotal to the hosts' chances of finishing in the top two spots and progressing to the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Papua New Guinea: Tony Ura
The experienced opener has been in superb form of late for Papua New Guinea and will be relied upon yet again to get his side off to a fast start during the tournament.
Ura has scored at least 35 in his last four ODI knocks, with the 33-year-old registering two half-centuries during that run and a best score of 51 against the UAE in Dubai at the end of last month.
If Papua New Guinea are to finish in the top two spots in the Qualifier Play-off then they will need Ura to fire with the bat as the aggressive right-hander will always score his runs in quick fashion.
United Arab Emirates: Junaid Siddique
While it was tempting to select in-form batter Muhammad Waseem as the key player for the UAE, it may end up being experienced quick Junaid Siddique that proves more crucial to their qualification hopes.
Siddique showed at last year's ICC Men's T20 World Cup that he was capable of swinging the white-ball early and the right-armer has the ability to bowl with good pace that is sure to upset opposition batters.
It is worth noting that Siddique was the UAE's leading wicket-taker during their recent League 2 campaign with 43 scalps at an average just greater than 25, and the 30-year-old will need to provide similar form in Namibia.
United States: Aaron Jones
The United States vice-captain has enjoyed a rich vein of form in recent times and should be full of confidence after recently being snapped up for the inaugural Major League Cricket tournament later this year.
Jones was a pivotal member of the United States' top-order during their recent ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 campaign, with the right-hander scoring an impressive 1184 runs at an average north of 42.
Only teammate and captain Monank Patel (1219) scored more runs for the USA in that League 2 run, and the duo will form a crucial part of the side's top order in Namibia.
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