The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 got underway under the blazing sunshine of the UAE across Abu Dhabi and Dubai on Friday.
With the fourteen teams split into groups based in each city, Day 1 saw two matches played in each centre.
The event got off to a bang with a cracker of a match when Scotland, the top ranked team coming into the event, was beaten in a final ball thriller by Singapore.
In a performance that surprised only those not aware of the form of the South East Asian team leading into the event, the team from the Lion City recovered well after losing their trump card, former-Perth Scorcher and Singapore born right hander Tim David early in their innings, to post 168/6 on the ICC Academy Ground 1.
In the Scots’ chase, George Munsey and Calum Macleod both got past 40, but after some key wickets from player of the match Selladore Vijaykumar who took 3-16, the equation left for Scotland was 8 runs required from the final over, to be bowled by Amjad Mahboob.
A fine last set from the Singapore skipper left five to win from the final ball, and after Josh Davey was unable to beat deep mid wicket, it was David who had been patrolling the leg-side fence who got his throw in to ‘keeper Dutta who ran out Alasdair Evan coming back for the third.
The other three games did not present anything close to the excitement generated in the opener; the Netherlands, Ireland and Oman all recording convincing victories.
The Dutch were a little scratchy when they beat Kenya by 30 runs in Group A’s second match, with some heartening performances from O’Dowd (53) and van Meekeren (3-27). Kenya was indebted to evergreen Collins Obuya whose 63 & 2-16 saved them from a much greater margin of defeat.
In Abu Dhabi where Group B is based, Ireland made light work of a new-look Hong Kong side when they chased down a target of 155 in the 17th over in the afternoon match. In temperatures nudging 40 degrees, half-centuries from Balbirinie and POTM Paul Stirling made for an easy chase for the Irish, after Kinchit Shah had earlier scored a match-high and own T20I-best 79 batting at second drop for Hong Kong.
The effects of the recent match-fixing scandal, if not somewhat delayed after some encouraging warmup results, seems to have had its effect on UAE whose weakened top order looked at-sea against an impressive Omani attack. After restricting UAE to 108 for nine from 20 overs, Zeeshan Maqsood’s side made light work of the chase – if not a little slowly – winning with 7 wickets and 10 balls in hand.
Tables after Day 1:
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Day 2 (20 October) Fixtures:
Group A: PNG v Bermuda (10h00), Netherlands v Namibia (14h10) at ICC Academy 1; Scotland v Kenya (14h10) at ICC Academy 2;
Group B: (Broadcast matches): Jersey v Nigeria (14h10), Ireland v UAE (19h30) at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
It is wonderful to see crickets new frontier. Singapore has really come of age and now watching Jersey and Nigeria play, cant help but feel good about cricket spreading globally. Singapore beating Scots and seeing Nigeria and Jersey live were unimaginable 10 years back. And the best part os that they all look decent. More support opportunities and funding from ICC will see these teams become even more competitive.