Four Challenge League spots to be claimed via Malaysia Play-off on road to 2027

Grabbing one of the four spots in the Cricket World Cup Challenge League and keeping 2027 World Cup dreams alive will be the minimum objective for eight teams in Malaysia at the Challenge League Play-off.

By Daniel Beswick

Held across three venues from 22 February to March 5, the 50-over competition will complete the line-ups for Cricket World Cup Challenge League Groups A and B.

All matches will be available live and free on (in select regions).

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It means the pathway to the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2027 includes a total of 36 teams, with the field cut to 32 after the Play-off.

As part of the promotion and relegation system for men’s international 50-over pathways, four of the teams will fight to retain their Challenge League spots after they finished in the bottom four of the previous cycle.

Upcoming tournament hosts Malaysia and Vanuatu come to the tournament after they finished in the bottom two in Challenge League A, while Italy and Bermuda travel to Kuala Lumpur after finishing in the bottom two in Challenge League B.

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Meeting them for the four spots in the next Challenge League cycle are the next best teams on the men’s T20I Ranking at the 30 September cut-off last year, who also meet requirements of domestic level 40+ over cricket.

Saudi Arabia enter the tournament in good form, albeit through T20I cricket, winning the Asian Cricket Council Men’s Challenger Cup, a tournament that feeds into the Council’s Premier Cup, the final step of 2025 Asia Cup qualification.

Kuwait boast a T20I ranking of 26th in the current ICC Men’s T20I, while Bahrain are one ranking step below.

Tanzania meanwhile have prepared for the tournament with a five-match series against local rivals Kenya, claiming matches four and five in a 3-2 defeat.

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The eight teams at the tournament will be split into two groups of four, with the top three of each group moving on to the Super Six stage. Points against other progressing teams carry over in the Super Six stage, where teams face all three opponents from the opposite group in crossover play.

The top four teams after the Super Six stage will take the spots in the next Challenge League cycle, with that competition eventually feeding into a Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off, another tournament on the road to the 2027 global tournament.

Group A: Bermuda, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

Group B: Bahrain, Malaysia, Tanzania, Vanuatu


22 February: Italy v Bermuda. Vanuatu v Bahrain, Kuwait v Saudi Arabia

23 February: Vanuatu v Tanzania, Italy v Saudi Arabia, Malaysia v Bahrain

25 February: Bermuda v Saudi Arabia, Malaysia v Tanzania, Italy v Kuwait

26 February: Bahrain v Tanzania, Bermuda v Kuwait, Malaysia v Vanuatu

28 February: B1 v A3, B2 v A2, B3 v A1

1 March: B1 v A2, B2 v A1, B3 v A3

3 March: B2 v A3, B3 v A2, B1 v A1

NewsICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League Play-off, 2024