From the Writer

Eight teams to battle out for two sports for World Cup Qualifier A

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier A begins at the Oman Academy grounds in Al Amerat on Friday. A lot is at stake for the eight participating nations – Ireland, Nepal, UAE, Canada, Germany, Philippines, Bahrain, and hosts Oman – as they vie for the two spots available at the Qualifier A from 18 to 24 February.

The Qualifier A is one of the two global qualifiers that is part of the final stages of the qualification process of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. A total of 20 matches will decide the two teams that will travel to Australia for the pinnacle event in the shortest format of the game later this year as an intense and exciting battle of cricket awaits the fans across the world.

The eight-nation tournament features an experienced Ireland side, who are set to face a fight from an in-form UAE, hosts Oman, and Nepal as the quartet boast of experience at playing at the global stage. However, with teams like Canada, Germany, Bahrain, and the Philippines eager to showcase their mettle, there is a good possibility of a few surprises in the coming week.

If Test-playing nation Ireland, the only Full Member nation, in the fray, begins the tournament as a favourite, there is a lot of excitement in the camp of debutants – Germany and the Philippines, who start the tournament as minnows, as this would be their first major event at the global stage.

Hosts Oman, who like Ireland, qualified for this tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, will be hoping to bank on their home ground advantage. Oman is pooled along with Nepal, who will be looking to qualify for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time since they made their debut in 2014.

Canada and the Philippines complete the Group A. Canada could be the surprise package in the Group A and matchups against the hosts and Nepal could potentially be decisive for the two teams that would make it to the semi-finals. In Group A, Ireland are the dominant unit and the UAE, who have been in a good form ahead of the event, are likely to push for the top-two spots.

Debutant Germany and regional team, Bahrain, are the other teams in Group B with Germany hoping to ring in a surprise or two. For Germany, it will be a new chapter in the history of the game, as they make their first ever appearance at a global qualifier, an achievement for an emerging cricket nation they share with the Philippines.

Hosts Oman take on Nepal in the opener on February 18 and all the games will be streamed live on FanCode in the Indian sub-continent and on ICC.tv across the rest of the world.

Nepal and the UAE sealed their places in the Qualifiers based on their rankings in the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings. The other four teams – Germany, Canada, Bahrain, and the Philippines – advanced through their regional qualifying tournaments held through the course of last year.

***  About the format ***

Each team will play all the other teams in the group once with the top-two teams advancing to the semifinals from the respective groups. The winners of the semi-finals will seal their spots in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, a goal that all the eight teams will be fighting hard. A total of four games will be played on two grounds on the match days with Canada facing the Philippines to start their campaign on the adjacent ground.

The opening day’s fixtures also feature Ireland vs UAE in a high-octane game on the main Oman Academy 1 ground while Germany take on Bahrain in the second match of the afternoon session.

*** The Road to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 ***

A total of 16 teams will be vying for the four spots during the two Qualifiers – A and B – with Qualifier B to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe from July 11-17, 2022. The teams in fray for the two remaining seats in Harare are hosts Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Jersey, the Netherlands, Paula New Guinea, Singapore, Uganda, and the United States of America (USA).

Seventy teams started the qualification process, and the two global Qualifiers will decide the final four teams that will be part of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia. For Oman, following the successful hosting of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 first round games last year, along with the opener, this is the second major ICC tournament.

Ahead of the Qualifier A, Oman also hosted a quadrangular T20 series involving four of the teams. Ireland, the UAE, and Nepal were the other sides. A total of six games were played from February 11-14. The warm-up series served as a good build-up with teams trying out different combinations ahead of the actual event and attempted to iron out their shortcomings. While the UAE and Ireland won two games each, Oman and Nepal tasted one wins each.

The quartet is expected to be the main rivals for a place in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup later this year, given the experience and exposure they have had in recent years. With the recent quadrangular providing a decent warm-up and other teams playing out few practice games, except for the Philippines, who arrived on Sunday to Oman, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier A – promises to bring some exciting and thrilling games over the next few days at the Oman Academy grounds.

*** Fixtures ***

February 18th, Friday: 10:00 (local time start): Oman Academy 1: Oman v Nepal, Oman Academy 2: Canada v Philippines;

14:00: Oman Academy 1: Ireland v UAE, Oman Academy 2: Germany v Bahrain.

February 19th, Saturday: 10:00: Oman Academy 1: Oman v Canada, Oman Academy 2: Nepal v Philippines;

14:00: Oman Academy 1: UAE v Germany, Oman Academy 2: Ireland v Bahrain.

February 20th, Sunday: Rest Day.

February 21st, Monday: 10:00: Oman Academy 1: Ireland v Germany, Oman Academy 2: UAE v Bahrain;

14:00: Oman Academy 1: Nepal vs Canada, Oman Academy 2: Oman vs Philippines.

February 22nd, Tuesday: 10:00: Oman Academy 1: A3 vs B4 (3rd in Group A v 4th in Group B), Oman Academy 2: B3 v A4 (3rd in Group B v 4th in Group A);

14:00: Oman Academy 1: Semi-Final 1 (winner Group A v Runner-up Group B), Oman Academy 2: Semi-Final 2 (Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A).

February 23rd, Wednesday: Rest Day.

February 24th, Thursday: Oman Academy 1: 10:00: 5th and 6th Play off (Winner of A3 v B4 v Winner of B3 v A 4), Oman Academy 2: 7th and 8th Play off (Loser of A3 v A4 v Loser of B3 v B4).

14:00: Oman Academy 1: Final (Winner of A1 v B2 v Winner of B1 v A2), Oman Academy 2:3rd and 4th Play off (Loser of A1 v B2 v Loser of B2 v A1).

*** Participating squads ***

Nepal: Sandeep Lamichhane (captain), Sharad Vesawkar, Gyanendra Malla, Dipendra Airee, Kushal Bhurtel, Arif Sheikh, Asif Sheikh, Abinash Bohara, Jitendra Mukhiya, Kamal Airee, Bibek Yadav, Lokesh Bam, Sagar Dhakal, Gulshan Jha.

Bahrain: Shahbaz Badar, Junaid Aziz Mohd Aziz, Waseeq Ahmed, Imran Javed Anwar, Prashant Kurup, Muhammad Younis, David Keelan Mathias, Umer Imtiaz, Sarfraz Ali (captain), Veerapathiran Sathaiyah, George Aaron Aaxtel, Haider Ali, Shahid Mahmood, Faiz Ahmed.

Canada: Navneet Dhaliwal (captain), Rayyan Pathan, Matt Spoors, Harsh Thaker, Ravinderpal Singh, Saad Zafar, Hamza Tariq, Shreyaas Movva, Salman Nazar,Junaid Siddiqui, Rishiv Joshi, Dilon Heyliger, Jatinderpal Matharu, Kaleem Sana.

Germany: Venkat Ganesan (captain), Michael Richardson, Dieter Klein, Fayaz Nasseri, Dylan Blignaut, Justin Broad, Nooruddin Mujadady, Vijay Shankar, Faisal Mubashir, Shoaib Azam Khan, Muslim Yar Ashraf, Sri Vishnu Baratheon, Talha Khan, Rasul Ahmadi.

Ireland: Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young.

Oman: Zeeshan Maqsood (captain), Syed Amir Kaleem, Muhammad Naseem, Jatinder Singh, Khawar Ali, Muhammad Nadeem, Ayaan Khan, Sandeep Goud, Kashyupkumar Prajapati, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan, Ahmed Fayyaz Butt, Shoaib Khan, Khurram Khan.

Philippines: Jonathan Hill (captain), Dan Smith, Henry Tyler, Grant Russ, Richie Goodwin, Jordan Alegra, Sachin Biddappa, Vimal Kumar, Siva Mohan, Huzaifa Mohammed, Gurbhupinder Chohan, Muzammil Shahzad, Miggy Podosky, Hern Isorena.

UAE: Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri, Vriitya Aravind, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Ahmed Raza (captain), Zohoor Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Raja Akifullah, Karthik Meiyappan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Zafar Farid, Muhammad Boota, Muhammad Usman, Rahul Bhatia.

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