The wait is almost over for the highly anticipated T20 World Cup Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates which will decide the six teams that qualify for the World Cup itself in Australia next year.
The group stage gets underway later this week, but we had our first look at the sides on Monday as all fourteen teams were in action in seven warm-up games across five grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
We summarise each game below, including a few surprising results. A further round of warm-up games follows on Tuesday before the real business starts on Friday.
IRELAND 156/8 (20.0 overs) beat Netherlands 126 all out (20.0 overs) by 30 runs @ Dubai International Stadium, Dubai – Scores
In a battle of two of the tournament heavyweights which pitched ICC Full Member Ireland against ODI Super League member the Netherlands at the Dubai International stadium, Ireland ran out comfortable winners.
Ireland skipper Gary Wilson hit 44 off 32 balls to top score in Ireland’s dig, with allrounder Mark Adair chipping in with 24 off just 13 balls towards the end lifting Ireland to 156. For the Dutch, skipper Pieter Seelaar, Timm van der Gugten and Roleof van der Merve all claimed two wickets each.
After a strong start to their reply, particularly from from Tobias Visee (30 off 24) the Netherlands crumbled from 37/0 after 4.5 overs to 43/4 after 7.3 They never really recovered despite Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate hitting 46 off 35 in a mini recovery, but he could not find a partner to stick around with him long enough to seriously challenge. Craig Young and Mark Adair, the latter capping off a fine all-round performance, were the pick of the Irish bowers with three wickets apiece.
HONG KONG 132/6 (19.5 overs) beat Namibia 131/8 (20.0 overs) by 4 wickets @ ICC Academy 1, Dubai – Scores
Hong Kong edged a thriller at the ICC Academy, overhauling Namibia’s 131 off the penultimate ball, a fine result given their tumultuous build up, and Namibia’s excellent form coming into the tournament.
Namibia certainly helped their opponents’ cause with two wides bowled in the final over, but it was a nicely timed chase led by keeper Scott McKechnie who top scored with 31* off 28 balls. Skipper Aizaz Khan chipped in with 25 off 29 balls. One bright spot for Namibia was Bernard Scholtz picking up 3 wickets for a very miserly 7 runs off his 4 overs.
Earlier, Namibia’s innings got off to the worst possible start falling to 12/3 off 2.2 overs before Waqar Barkas (3/25) cleaned up the Africans’ middle order to leave them 85/7 off 16.1 overs. A late surge from JJ Smit (35 off 18 balls, 3 sixes) and Jan Frylink (16 off 10 balls) lifted the score to 132 by the end, but it was ultimately too little too late.
CANADA 165/4 (18.0 overs) beat Singapore 164/5 (20.0 overs) by six wickets @ICC Academy 2, Dubai – Scores
Both these sides have been in excellent form leading up to the tournament and are both tipped as dark horses to do well in their respective groups. That was evident here in a quality warm-up game.
Batting first, Singapore lost two early wickets but recovered very well led by a half century by Surendan Chandramohan (51 off 38 balls, 2 sixes) assisted by fine knocks from Aritra Dutta (34 off 28) and Amanpreet Singh (36 off 19, 3 sixes) to post a competitive 164 off their 20 overs.
Reversing their recent 50-over result in Malaysia, Canada chased the target down easily with two overs to spare was down to an explosive knock by the world-record holding Ravinderpal Singh (the first men ever to score a T20I century on debut, a feat he accomplished in the Americas qualifier) who blasted 79 off 38 balls including 7 sixes, aided and abetted by 44 off 38 balls by Nitish Kumar.
Group B bowling attacks are going to have to come up with a way of containing Singh, as in this kind of form as he has the potential to cause all heaps of trouble in the coming weeks.
JERSEY 131/3 (13.2 overs) beat Kenya 127/6 (20.0 overs) by 7 wickets @ Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi – Scores
A largely one-sided affair was won by European qualifiers Jersey over their African rivals in this Abu Dhabi warm-up. Kenya got off to decent start in the first innings, reaching 39/0 of 4.2 overs before some fine bowling throttled the run rate completely. Jersey skipper Charles “Chuggy” Perchard was the star of the show for the Channel Islanders taking four wickets for 13 runs off his four overs, while the highly experienced Collins Oboya top scored for Kenya with 49 off 48 balls including three sixes.
Jersey chased their target with consummate ease, 21 year-old Jonty Jenner blasting 47 off 29 balls (6 fours), and Ben Stevens 32 off 19 (3 fours, two sixes) leading them to a seven-wicket win with nearly seven overs to spare.
BERMUDA 171/5 (20.0 overs) beat Nigeria 118 all out (19.5 overs) by 53 runs @ Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi – Scores
Bermuda ran out easy winners in a warm-up battle between the two lowest ranked sides in the tournament.
Up first, Bermuda got off to a flyer with openers Okera Bascome (49 off 25 balls, 2 sixes) and skipper Dion Stovell (25 off 27) helping the Gombey Warriors to 76/0 off 9.4 overs before both fell in quick succession. The onslaught continued however with Kamau Leverock (23 off 17) and Deunte Darrell (47 off 25, four sixes) showing no mercy to a Nigeria attack which featured no fewer than eight bowlers. Bermuda eventually finished on 171/5, the highest score by any of the 14 teams in action today. Spinner Daniel Ajeku shone most brightly for Nigeria, taking three wickets for 26 off his four overs.
Nigeria were always going to struggle chasing such a large target and so it proved. Skipper Ademola Onikoyi top scored on 32, but they fell well short in a chase featuring two wickets each for Leverock and Bermuda spinner Rodney Trott, as well as three run-outs.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES 157/5 (20 overs) beat Scotland 120/9 (20 overs) by 37 runs @ Dubai International Stadium, Dubai – Scores
In a week that has seen three mysterious (watch this space!) withdrawals from their originally named squad, including the captain, you could have forgiven hosts UAE for not getting off to the brightest of starts on the field, particularly when they were facing one of the tournament favourites in Scotland. But Associate cricket is notoriously difficult to predict as we know, and it was the UAE that were to prevail today in Dubai.
Rameez Shahzad (43* off 28 balls) and Ashfaq Ahmed (38 off 25) top scored in a competitive Emirati total of 157/5 in which Scottish spinner Tom Sole picked up three wickets. Scotland’s reply got off to a horror start with 42 year-old Sultan Ahmed picking up both Scottish captain Kyle Coetzer and the big-hitting George Munsey in the second over of the chase to leave the visitors 3-2 off 11 balls. Two more wickets fell with the score yet to pass 26 before Richie Berrington (34), Michael Leask (32) and Craig Wallace (26) lent the Scots total a modicum of respectability, but they never really looked in contention as the UAE cruised to a 37-run victory to ease the pain of a troubling week off the field.
OMAN 98/6 (17.2 overs) beat Papua New Guinea 97 all out (17.5 overs) by 4 wickets @ ICC Academy 1, Dubai – Scores
A low scoring affair that will have pleased neither side rounds out our review of the day’s warm-up games.
Papua New Guinea struggled batting first-up against in-form Oman, with only Tony Ura getting any kind of score (39 off 35 balls) at the top of the order. Despite Oman using nine bowlers, their biggest wicket taking threat seemed to come from PNG’s chaotic running ability, with no fewer than four run-outs crippling any chance at a decent total. In the end PNG struggled to 97 before being bowled out in the 18th over.
Oman themselves then got off to an equally dreadful start, losing two wickets in the first over of their chase, including a diamond duck for Jatinder Singh, run out without facing a ball. After 11.1 overs, Oman were at 54/5 and PNG may have still held onto slim hopes, but in the end a 22-ball 30 from Aamir Kaleem saw Oman home to a 6-wicket win with 16 balls to spare.