Emerging talents including a 17-year-old sensation have made a blazing start to the Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off to reveal how crucial youth could be to each team’s hopes of securing a critical top-two finish.
Canada, United Arab Emirates and the United States each made a triumphant start to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off, but rising stars across each of the early winners and losers made their mark in the opening matches.
We look at the young guns that made an instant impact in the Qualifier Play-off and will now be out to drive their team toward a spot in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup later this year.
Aayan Khan (UAE)
One of the brightest talents in the game Aayan Khan came to the crease with the UAE reeling at 89/5, then propelled his side to an opening-round victory over Papua New Guinea.
The 17-year-old sensation showed composure beyond his years to partner captain Muhammad Waseem (96) in a 80-run stand that steered the UAE toward their total of 260/7.
Aayan was undefeated on 94* from as many balls, with three sixes and nine boundaries, then bowled eight overs of left-arm spin for 1/33 in a pivotal performance.
Karthik Meiyappan (UAE)
The 22-year-old leg-spinner announced himself with a hat-trick at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup last year, but this time was just as crucial with the bat in the UAE’s 21-run win.
Meiyappan added 24 important runs late in the innings in a 90-run partnership with Aayan Khan that took them to the penultimate ball.
The young all-rounder then did the damage with the ball to snare 4/45 from eight overs including the key wicket of PNG skipper Assad Vala for one.
The UAE can expect 20-year-old keeper-batter Vriitya Aravind to also make an impact in the Qualifier Play-off after being among the top 10 run-scorers during the League 2 series, although he was dismissed for a golden duck against PNG.
In further positive signs for the UAE’s future, they could trust 21-year-old all-rounder Aryan Lakra to open the innings and bowl three overs of off-spin against PNG, while 20-year-old medium-pacer Sanchit Sharma was given the new ball.
PNG on the other hand selected two 21-year-olds in left-arm speedster Semo Kamea who took the new ball and claimed 2/38 against the UAE, and keeper Hila Vare.
While the USA named an experienced line-up for the clash with Namibia with every player aged 28 or older, injuries to several senior players have all but forced the tournament hosts to turn to youth.
Shaun Fouché (Namibia)
Namibia all-rounder Shaun Fouché was one to grasp his opportunity in front of home crowds in just his third ODI, even while his team suffered a shock loss by 80 runs.
The 23-year-old medium pacer claimed 3/46 from 10 overs, then backed it up when opening the Namibia innings with an assured 55 from 98 balls even as wickets fell at the other end.
Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton joined Fouché for a 62-run fourth-wicket partnership that lifted Namibia’s chances until the 22-year-old left-hander was dismissed for 38.
In the USA innings, Ben Shikongo also made an early statement in the first match of the Qualifier Play-off, with a pair of dismissals including the key wicket of Monank Patel in just the second over of the USA innings. The 22-year-old quick finished with 3/59 from 10 overs.
Jersey have turned to youth as much as any team in the Qualifier Play-off as they embark on their first-ever matches with ODI status while also having an eye on the future.
Josh Lawrenson (Jersey)
The 20-year-old Lawrenson impressed with 426 runs in 11 Challenge League matches then looked more than comfortable even as the stakes climbed higher with 66 runs from 101 balls against Canada.
Nick Greenwood (Jersey)
The 23-year-old opener partnered with Lawrenson for an 81-run second-wicket stand, as Greenwood did the bulk of the attacking on the way to 59 runs from 70 balls with two sixes and five boundaries.
Greenwood came into the Qualifier Play-off in ominous form after being the top-scorer in the Challenge League Group B with 809 runs from 15 matches.
Julius Sumerauer was thrown the new ball and the pacer finished with 2/42 from 10 overs, then the 22-year-old hit a quick-fire 13 as Jersey tried to stay in the contest.
Jersey also named 22-year-old opener Harrison Carlyon (18 runs) and 19-year-old top-order batter Asa Tribe (six runs, 0/11) for their opening match.
Canada meanwhile selected 23-year-old Matthew Spoors in their winning line-up with the right-hander making six runs in his first ODI.
How to watch the Qualifier Play-off
The Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off will be available on Fancode in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan; and on Willow TV in the USA.
Fans in ALL other regions can watch the Qualifier Play-off live and FREE on ICC.tv on:
* ICC.tv website
* ICC.tv mobile apps (available in the App Store and Google Play)
* Samsung TV and LG TV apps
Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off
Watch Highlights of Every ODI as the USA and UAE Secured a Spot in the Next Stage - FREE on ICC.tv