1. WILLIAM PORTERFIELD, Ireland
Left-hand opening batsman
294 runs at 42.00, 1 hundred, 1 fifty
The Ireland captain and opening batsman has piles of experience and used it to good effect on more than one occasion in the qualifiers, starting with a 47 against the Netherlands and following it up with 111 against Papua New Guinea. Porterfield played one more good hand, 92 against UAE, and Ireland won all those three games.
Unfortunately for Porterfield, he failed in three key games – against Windies, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan – and Ireland were defeated in all of them to lose their chance to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
2. CALUM MACLEOD, Scotland
Right-hand top-order batsman
303 runs at 50.50, 1 hundred, 1 fifty
Scotland’s No.3 created the first major splash at the qualifiers with an unbeaten 146-ball 157 against Afghanistan on the first day of the tournament itself, which gave his team victory against the eventual champions.
MacLeod went off the boil after that before rediscovering his touch with a 79-ball 78 in the Super Sixes game against UAE, which Scotland won to keep alive their chances of making the top two, which didn’t materialise in the end.
3. RAHMAT SHAH, Afghanistan
Right-hand middle-order batsman
280 runs at 35.00, 3 fifties
In a batting order that was shuffled a fair bit during the course of the tournament, Rahmat Shah held on to his No.3 slot all along, and proved why Afghanistan trust him so much with great consistency. In an often rickety line-up, he stood out.
After a slow start, he almost played a match-winning hand against Zimbabwe with a responsible 69, and played crucial knocks in many of Afghanistan’s wins: 46 against Nepal, 68 against Windies in the Super Sixes game, and 51 in the final against Windies.
4. PARAS KHADKA, Nepal
Right-hand middle-order batsman, right-arm off-spin
231 runs at 38.50, 2 fifties
That their captain continues to dictate Nepal’s fortunes with the bat was very much in evidence again as Khadka comfortably topped their batting numbers, scoring 88 runs more than the second-highest run-getter, Dipendra Airee with 143.
Nepal didn’t progress to the Super Sixes but were one of the big gainers at the qualifiers as they earned one-day international status. Khadka scored just 11 in the match they won to pull the feat off, against Hong Kong, but did exceedingly well prior to that game with scores of 40, 63 and 75 against Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan respectively, all teams with greater experience than Nepal.
5. ROELOF VAN DER MERWE, The Netherlands
Right-hand batsman, left-arm spin
98 runs at 16.33, 16 wickets at 12.25
The Netherlands had a forgettable tournament but their premier all-rounder didn’t, even though he did much better with the ball than with the bat. Van der Merwe, 33, was a limited-overs specialist for a while for South Africa before switching to the Netherlands, and showcased his class.
The Netherlands played six games in the qualifiers, and van der Merwe returned four-fors in three of them, including in both the matches they won, against PNG and Hong Kong.
6. MOHAMMAD NAVEED, UAE
Right-hand lower-order batsman, right-arm medium
79 runs at 26.33, 14 wickets at 24.64, 1 five-wicket haul
The bustling, well-built opening paceman started the tournament with a bang, 5/28 in a comfortable win over PNG. He had a quiet time after that, picking up wickets but going for many, till the last two games of UAE’s campaign when he put up an exhilarating show with ball and bat.
Against Afghanistan, though UAE lost, Naveed’s 20-ball 45 towards the end and 2/37 stood out, while in the last game, when UAE beat Zimbabwe to knock the tournament hosts out of contention, Naveed was the Player of the Match after another blitz – 22* in 10 balls – and a super spell of 3/40, which included the scalps of Solomon Mire and Hamilton Masakadza, the openers.