Squads for the 2021 Central Europe Cup, to be played in Prague, have been announced by all three participating nations. The 7th edition of the tournament will take place between Friday 21st and Sunday 23rd May. The cancellation of the 2020 edition, means these will be the first Twenty20 International matches to be played in the Czech Republic. The hosts will be welcoming Austria and Luxembourg.
The Luxembourg Cricket Federation announced a 14-man squad captained by Joost Mees. Aanand Pandey is the only uncapped player in the travelling party. Luxembourg’s most recent international action was in August 2020 when they hosted a tri-nation series which also involved the Czechs. Currently ranked 62nd in the ICC T20I rankings, they will be looking to improve their record in official T20I cricket. They have two wins and six defeats since their debut at the Continental Cup in Romania in August 2019.
Austria enter the tournament as the highest ranked team of the three participants (39). Razmal Shigiwal captains a squad which contains a number of players in line for a T20I debut. The other players named in the squad are: Rayhaan Ahmed, Mirza Ahsan, Zeshan Arif, Aman Habibullah, Zabiullah Ibrahimkhel, Aqib Iqbal, Kunal Joshi, Lakmal Kasturiarachchige, Jaweed Sadran, Zadran Sahel, Mark Simpson-Parker, Navin Wijesekera, Bilal Zalmai.
The Czech’s (currently ranked 61st) named their squad in April. Sudesh Wickramasekara will captain the hosts, who will be without some key players including Honey Gori, Sumit Pokhriyal and Kyle Gilham.
EDIT: On 18 May, the Czechs announced changes to their squad due to some players no longer being available. Reserves Sagar Madhireddy and Smit Patel replaced Abul Farhad and Zahid Mahmood in the squad. Surya Rengarajan has been added as a reserve.
The Central Europe Cup tournament will now be played in a double round-robin format, for a total of six T20Is. All matches will be played at Prague’s Vinoř Cricket Ground.
Austria, Czech Republic and Luxembourg all played their first official T20Is during the 2019 Continental Cup in Romania. The Austrians defeated the Czechs by 30 runs in the final of that event, but have not played a T20I since. Luxembourg and the Czech Republic met again in Walferdange in August 2020, sharing a win apiece, where both sides were outplayed by Belgium in a tri-nations series.
Unfortunately, Malta were forced to withdraw from the tournament due to ongoing COVID restrictions in their country.
In other news, the LCF has been in contact with various countries in the hope of arranging some replacement events following the cancellation of the ICC T20 European Qualifying tournaments. Luxembourg had been scheduled to travel to Finland in June to compete in the sub-regional Group B before COVID restrictions across the continent forced plans to be changed once again.
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