Who will win the ICC Twenty20 Qualifiers?
This is a very difficult question and the right answer is really difficult to guess. It is a tournament with too many teams and too little slots to fill. Over that, the teams are all really competitive with almost all teams on their day having the capability to defeat all other teams. However that said, not all teams have an equal chance. Given the squads, exposure of various teams, I would put the chances as follows:
They are the most popular associates and clearly the favorites. They have got an intelligent captain who makes the most of his resources. The resources definitely are exciting; led by the dangerous Kevin O’Brien famous for his fastest century in the World Cup or the young and exciting left-arm orthodox George Dockrell. The team has the ability and it will be tough for most teams to overcome this talented side.
They are a nation filled with passion for cricket. Cricket unites this war ravaged country and these cricketers are national stars. Afghanistan has one of the most potent talented players’ group who on their day can take on the mightiest names in cricket. A fiery pace attack led by Hamid Hassan who can easily claim a place in most of the test sides or the calm and composed captain Nawroz Mangal; they would be taking the final berth most likely with Ireland.
Surprised to hear this name? The Scots have a flourishing team whose average age is 24. The team stayed away from limelight as they missed out in 2011 WC, but that year they had a performance that needs to be looked into. They played 4 ODI’s and won 3, two against Netherlands and one against Ireland. They lost to Sri Lanka. This is a team with real potential for fireworks and taking them lightly is asking for trouble.
If you’re surprised that this name is not in the favorites, don’t be. Their biggest name and star is not playing the qualifiers, Ryan ten Doeschate is not playing and hence this clearly puts them off the field of favorites. Having said that, the team has still got some good talent and surely have a clear chance to make it to Sri Lanka.
Are you judging them by their performance in 2011 WC? If yes, then my recommendation is don’t be fooled by that. After the disastrous campaign, the management has put all ticks in the preparation for this tournament. Firstly they formed the domestic structure which was important. Then they have given the young players loads of exposure which is very critical. The results have not been coming in full swings but surely there are good signs. The visiting Irish team did not have it easy for the Inter Continental Matches.
Their performance surely have dropped after the World Cup with the loss of a great player like Ashish Bagai. They are down but never out. With some exciting players like Harvinder Baidwan, Jimmy Hansra or Manny Aulakh, they can challenge any other team on their day.
When Kenya visited them in November 2011, Namibia smashed them 6-2 in a T20 series. Currently, they get to play in the domestic series in South Africa, whose experience they surely are relishing and the performance can be seen on the field. They have played in a World Cup once and surely would want to reach the top level again. Captain Sarel Burger’s form would be critical for the team.
Here I would like to name some teams who have a bleak chance of making into the World T20 but surely can spoil the party of the favorites.
1. Papua New Guinea
The team is a result of hard work put in at the Junior level. PNG have a great youth program with largest number of players involved in any Associate. The team has a great bowling line up. The one area where they have a good opportunity to shine is batting and with former England Wicket Keeper Batsman Greaint Jones joining their ranks, it surely makes them an extremely dangerous team for the big guns.
2. HONG KONG
Like PNG and Scotland, this is a team made from developing the youth. It is a very young team which was the runners up in the Asian region and gave a very close fight to Afghanistan in the finals. They surely can never be taken lightly at any moment.
They have the biggest fan base amongst the Associates, a nation filled with passion for cricket. They got a new coach who was responsible for transforming Canada and is doing all things right to do the same in Nepal. The coach is getting good exposure for the team before it hits Dubai. The team is the best at Junior Levels who have defeated the likes of South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand & West Indies and people are hoping that they will transfer the performance at senior level too this time.
If we talk about upcoming teams, one thing is common among them. Be it Scotland, PNG, HK, Nepal or Uganda. The development of youth is the key for success. The party spoiling could be seen at the African Division One where they defeated the party of the better rated Namibia and won the tournament. They also made the right noises when both Franchises from Uganda reached the finals in the EAPL. They have been traditional chokers, but this is the tag they would be hoping to get rid of.
Remember Dwayne Leverock taking a diving catch? That’s the impact Bermuda made in 2007 World Cup. They have tasted the top level once and surely would be wanting to do that again for the most popular game in the country. The team surely have got great talents like David Hemp. Let’s see how they fare in their biggest tournament of the year.
The nation is the second biggest market for cricket in the world. There are over 20,000 active players in the country. The country has got the mix of experience from India, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Australia and England. The team had once surprised the critics and reached the Champions Trophy. But, and a big ‘but’ is the limitation that the sports is run like a personal fiefdom under Mr Dainty where merit is often ignored. Having said that there are certainly some very talented players who can give a run for money to all the top teams in the tournament.
OMAN is a team formed of all but some expats. The team is aging and in T20 format that is not helpful.
DENMARK joined the ranks of Scotland and Netherlands but over time the game somehow lost out. The nation has got some talent but I do not expect much action from them.
ITALY is an upcoming team which draws its strength from likes of immigrants or overseas players of Italian origin. Their overseas players are its X-factor but I do not expect them to miraculously reach Sri Lanka. Some wins here and there, but not much beside that.
Finally, this tournament will be a cracker of the tournament. Let us hope the best team makes it to Sri Lanka.
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