We currently sit at the halfway mark of the Asian T20 World Cup Qualifiers and like the recent European qualifiers, we look to be set for a nail biter.
Nepal entered the tournament as favourites, but a shock upset in their first match of the tournament to Qatar blew the competition wide open. After UAE was given a bye through this event by virtue of winning the hosting rights to the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier, the five sides in Singapore are battling out for the single remaining Asian qualifier spot.
Singapore opened the competition in style with a 33 run victory over Qatar. The hosts set Qatar 186 runs for victory, and the Gulf state was only able to score 153 in reply. In the second match of the opening day, Malaysia opened its campaign with a comfortable 42 run victory after bowling Kuwait out for 120.
A rain affected day two started with a boilover as Nepal were skittled for 122 by a spirited Qatar. Despite a flurry of wickets with the total in sight, the Qatari pair of Rizlan and Sarwar were able to hold their nerve and guided their side home with four balls remaining. The final match of the second day between Singapore and Kuwait was washed out due to rain.
The only match on day three was also rain reduced to just nine overs each. Nepal won the toss and inserted Malaysia, who set what appeared to be a defendable score of 83 from their nine overs on a rapidly deteriorating wicket square. Nepal, however, showed their class in chasing the score with an over to spare, thanks to an incredible 51 off 21 balls from stand-in skipper Gyanendra Malla.
With five matches to play, the ladder is evenly poised – all five teams still have a mathematical chance to book their ticket to UAE for the 14-team global qualifier.
Let’s take a look at the three remaining match days.:
The opening match of day four between Kuwait and Qatar is an early final for both, with the loser being effectively eliminated. While Singapore has a twelve place advantage in the T20 rankings, Malaysia’s recent form will give them the confidence they can upset the hosts in the afternoon fixture.
Nepal will be highly fancied to pick up two points and a NRR boost on Saturday morning against Kuwait, and Malaysia takes on the impressive Qataris in the steamy heat of a Singapore summer afternoon.
During the recent European qualifiers, fans had to wait until after the last ball of the final game when it was the calculator of the match officials that determined the winner by net run rate. Depending on the results of Friday and Saturday, Sunday’s 9.30am fixture, the last of the tournament, could be a grand final in every way except its name when the Rhinos from the base of the Himalayas take on the hosts from the Lion City.
A mouth-watering three days of cricket ahead is not to be missed!