ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021 - Preliminary Stage Preview

Donal Cozzie

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So it's been five years but we're back again. Another world cup and yet another preliminary round/qualifier.

As I've done in the past I figured I'd do a quick write-up for any fans here looking to watch some of the early games. I won't be looking at SL/BD as I think everyone here knows plenty about those sides and I won't really be able to add anything worth reading on that.

That said, the general standards of the Associates has risen sharply in this form of the game over recent years, to the point the gap between the top Associates and low/mid tier Full Member's has never been lower. I'm confident we'll see some Associate shocks in this event, for a variety of reasons, not least the accelerated and continued rise in standards in this format in recent times.

So, I highly recommend everyone interested tunes in over the next week. The standard is good, there are guaranteed to be some absolutely cracking games and more importantly, every run, every game, every ball, has huge importance! A guaranteed recipe for drama worth viewing.

Group A

An absolutely brutal group to predict, any of the four sides could qualify. I'm predicting every side to win at least one game, with qualifying margins to be quite tight.

The Netherlands

Qualifying Rank - 1st.

Overview

Easily the most successful Associate in the history of this competition, with two memorable victories over the English in 2009 and 2014 arguably being the high points of Dutch cricket full stop, plus the memorable chase against Ireland in 2014, the Dutch enter this tournament full of experience and ability in the format.

They won the Qualifier in quite convincing fashion, and boast serious depth in the pace bowling department, with genuine pace in Van Meekeren , and plenty of List A experience in England and NZ respectively from from Van der Gugten and van Beek.

On the batting front, there does exist a weakness against high quality spin, but with only SL in this group having that at their disposal, the Dutch should overcome this to qualify. Max O'Dowd has a very unique batting stance and is an excellent striker of the ball, and while Myburgh hasn't had the best form of late, he has immense destructive potential as evidenced in 2014 when he scored several fifties against quality opposition.

Players to Watch

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Van der Merwe's all round abilities will be crucial if the Dutch are to progress

Averaging 29 at a SR of 125, Max O'Dowd as mentioned is a key cog in the Dutch batting department. They can also call on the immensely experienced duo of Colin Ackermann, Roelof van Der Merwe and Ryan TenDoeschate.

On the bowling front, Van Meekeren is coming fresh off a spell in the CPL and possesses considerable pace and bounce. In addition, Timm van der Gugten has plenty of county experience to his name

Weakness

If one was to pick a weakness with the Dutch, it would be their preparation. Although they've cobbled together three warm-up games this week, they have spent the least time in conditions of any of the qualifying sides I'm aware, and while Ireland, Soctland and others organised a quick tournament, the Dutch spent time in the nets.

In addition, they lack a potent spinner. Van Der Merwe and Seelaar are both canny operators but in a format where legspinners come at such a premium the Dutch are lacking, with the exception of young Boisevaan, although it is questionable if the management will risk playing him in this event.

Prediction - The Dutch have considerable ability in this format of the game, have several seasoned franchise players at their disposal and possess considerable batting depth. If conditions are as expected somewhat slow after the pitches have been used in the IPL for several weeks, I feel this will play to the bowling of the Dutch pacers in particular. They expect to qualify and should do so. 2nd place.


Namibia

Qualifying Rank - 4th

Overview

18 years after their WC bow in 2003, the Namibians are back and have never looked stronger. A seriously powerful batting line up on paper, they have been bolstered by outstanding preparation including extended tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the acquisition of t20 franchise regular David Wiese, formerly of South Africa, who qualifies through a parent.

Boasting a batting line up stacked with massive hitting potential, they are not to be underestimated by any side in this tournament. They enter the event as massive underdogs based on their nations status alone, which will suit them perfectly, they are a major dark horse for this event.

Players to Watch

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Averaging over 30 at a SR above 150, Smit will play a key role in propelling Namibia's batting.

JJ Smit possesses incredible hitting power, and this could be a breakout tournament. While hardly penetrating with the ball, the 25 year old medium pacer possesses a variety of bowling variations that can provide success in this format of the game, and his batting prowess has been shown time and again with some major innings in recent times. His T20I SR of above 150 is testamant to that, while averaging 33.

Gerhard Erasmus was player of the tournament in the qualifying tournament with 268 runs. Captain of the side, he plays a pivotal role in holding the top order together, as does Craig Williams. Both are more than capable of accelerating if given the chance.

On the all rounder front, Wiese and Smit is as dangerous as they come in terms of punishing the opposition. Bernard Scholz is an experienced left arm spinner who could also find purchase in these conditions.

Weakness

Namibia are certainly a batting heavy side, so there does exist a risk that the bowling is undercooked and slightly one dimensional, with little out and out pace on offer, they will be hoping for pitches that provide some assistance to their slower bowling outfit

Similar to the Dutch, while they can have spectacular success, the Namibians are inexperience in playing against quality legspin (Wiese aside), which could be their undoing.

It is pivotal for every side they come up against to make early inroads, as if they are allowed consolidate and save wickets for a late onslaught this team is capable of causing serious damage.

Prediction - I think they may struggle against the Lankans in particular with their spin resources, but I fully back the Namibians to cause at least one major shock in this tournament, with an outside chance of qualification. There are zero expectations as the cricket media by and large ignore these teams. I think this time they'll leave a mark, but fall just short. 3rd.


Ireland

Qualifying rank - 3rd

Overview

Easily the least consistent team in this event. It's entirely possible Ireland top this group or finish winless. Away victories over the Windies and Afghanistan in 2020 are squashed between an inconsistent qualifying campaign including three defeats, and chastening whitewash to the South Africans and a recent 2-1 series defeat to the UAE. The Irish did claim a series win vs Zimbabwe in August however.

The strength of the side comes in the form of its best two players. Paul Stirling is arguably the best player in this stage of the tournament and potentially one of the best LO openers on the scene worldwide. Left arm pacer Joshua Little has enjoyed a breakout 18 months and looks every bit the t20 bowler, with pace, attitude and plenty of variations.

The key weakness however lies in the inexperienced and ill equpped lower middle order. Captain Balbirnie occupies the stabiliser role however Dockrell at #5 is yet to find his feet in this format and Gareth Delany has only recently come into some batting form. The lower order possess a chronic inability to hit sixes, which has and may well undo the side's chances particularly in even straightforward chases in which the team has a tendency to lose wickets in clumps trying to up the ante.

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Ireland will rely heavily on Joshua Little to provide aggression to the bowling unit

Players to watch

Stirling and Little require no introduction as their escapades are well documented at this level. Curtis Campher will play a huge role in the Irish sides chances. He is likely to be called on to bowl and bat in the top 5. His ODI batting exploits have been nothing sort of outstanding and the Irish will be praying he can bring that success across to this format of the game.

Gareth Delany possesses tremendous striking power, with a career SR above 150, unlike most of the side, but is still quite young. If he can play an innings Ireland tend to win, and his legspin has proven very useful in the past. His very unorthodox batting stance can lend itself to some seriously ugly dismissals however.

Weakness

As stated earlier, this is a team carrying five or six passengers. Ireland will be hoping some of these players rise to the occasion and release the burden placed on the opening partnership of Stirling and KOB in particular. Ireland have been badly undone from positions of great strength numerous times due to a lack of power and this is absolutely an area the opposition will seek to exploit. On its day this side can and has beaten many established sides, but in a three game shootout that level of inconsistency is unlikely to be sufficient.

Prediction - 4th.

Final Table

1. Sri Lanka - 4 (will not have all their own way, but they've prepared well and have the players and spinners to progress)
2. Netherlands - 4
3. Namibia - 2
4. Ireland - 2
 
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Group B

This group is considerably more straightforward than its counterpart. Bangladesh are a bit of an unknown quantity in my opinion as recent series they've had at home have been played on pitches more suited to growing crops than playing t20 cricket. That said, they're stronger than SL imo and the imbalance in the group seedings caused by the ICC's ridiculous pre-tournament changes has handed them an easier qualifying group than their Sri Lankan neighbours.

That said, the final qualifying slot is wide open.

Scotland

Qualifying Rank - 5th

Overview

The Scots endured a pretty torrid qualification campaign dogged by serious underperformance. In the end they faced a do or die match against the hosts the UAE to secure their place in this event. They enter this tournament in good spirits however, following several good warm up displays.

The Scots boast some outstanding strikers of the ball at the top, and have plenty of experience to call on from their last showing at the 2016 tournament. However, they have historically failed to perform on the world stage dating all the way back to their debut event in 1999. That said, the format of this event provides sufficient room for one defeat and that could allow the Scots to overcome the past and make their mark on this tournament.

Players to Watch

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Munsey is the prize wicket of the Scottish batting line up​

George Munsey is an incredibly destructive batsman, The 28 year old averages 29 at a SR of 153, and will look to blow the opposition away before giving them a chance to settler. He's an excellent sweeper of the cricket ball, which should hold him in good stead going into this event.

Michael Leask provides the meat of the Scottish lower order and as a handy offspinner will likely find himself involved in the game often. He will provide a huge boost to the Scots if he can perform to his ability in this tournament. Richie Berrington will occupy a similar role, however bowling medium pace rather than spin. Mark Watt is the premiere spinner in the Scottish arsenal, with extremely accurate left arm spin always being useful in this format.

Lastly, the Scots have unearthed a fairly unknown Saffer origin leggie of the name Chris Greaves. He had several promising warm up displays, and bowls his leggies with excellent pace. He may not be able to rise to this occasion but if he can he will provide the Scots with a serious aggressive bowling option they've sorely lacked for years.

Weakness

The glaring weakness in the Scottish line up is the pace department. All have plenty of county experience, but with all being right arm medium pace the issue is a lack of variety. Bradley Wheal is the best of the bunch and may provide early inroads, but the Scots definitely opt for a batting heavy approach and I can see the pacers going for plenty at the death provided the opposition can get to that point. It is condition dependent of course, but the Scots may find themselves struggling in this department.

Additionally, it's hard to look past the history of underperformance. In 22 years of frequent WC appearances, the Scots have only won once, vs Hong Kong in 2016, with numerous near misses. They will need to overcome this stigma to progress. For me, the bowling attack and fact that their direct competitor are hosts will be their undoing.

Prediction - 3rd.

Papua New Guinea

Qualifying Rank - 2nd

Overview

After several near misses the Barramundis have finally made it to the world stage. Sporting a lovely jersey and a fantastic attitude to the game, they're certainly a welcome addition to this tournament.

A simply abysmal run of form in ODI cricket however should not hide the fact that PNG are a useful T20 outfit, as shown by them reaching the qualifier final over many more fancied sides.

Written off by many as no-hopers, they enter this tournament with a sense of freedome others can't benefit from, and have a good reputation particularly for their fielding at this level.

Players to Watch

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Vanua can add much needed runs to a brittle batting order​

In a weak batting line up, Asad Vala holds a crucial role.at the top as a player PNG rely on to stick around and build an innings around. Tony Ura is the prize scalp however, with an average nearly 40 and a healthy SR. These two bear a lot of the responsibility in ensuring they get to a decent total.

Noman Vanua is a big hitting allrounder (spotting a trend?) who tends to bowl a full quote and bat around #8. An inventive batsman, his contributions have often proven the difference for this side.

Weakness

In a sport where the term "bits and pieces player" is quite common, PNG can be described as a bits and pieces side in that they do a bit of everything well, get regular small contributions but they don't necessarily excel in any. A lack of experience at this level will be a difficult challenge to overcome, with PNG to my knowledge having never faced a Full Member nation in this form of the game before (could be wrong here).

It would be amiss to write them off, they reached the final of the qualifier and topped their group, but the lack of cricket over the pandemic, which has impacted all the Associates mentioned, hurt them.

The batting could well collapse if the vital two at the top are dismissed early.

I think PNG have a performance or two in them this tournament. Bangladesh with Shakib may be a step too far but they have no fear, play with a tremendous sense of joy and will , in my opinion, cause a scare or two. However, I think they'll fall short in the end. That said, they fear noone, and noone expects anything. Crazier things have happened.

Prediction - 4th

Oman

Qualifier Rank - 6th

Overview

Last but not least, the co-hosts, Oman. Currently well clear at the top of the WCL2 ODI championship, they enter this tournament with the full expectation of progressing to the next stage. With home turf and knowledge of conditions key, they have one major advantage over their rivals.

Oman are in many ways a perfect t20 side. Plenty of options with bat and ball, sedate starts can quickly lead to imposing totals, opening bowlers can quickly take wickets. There's no frills with this side, they enter the event confident and with good reason to be, despite a mixed qualifier campaign.

Players to Watch

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Bilal Khan can generate big swing and will be key as Oman's leading strike bowler.

Jatinder Singh at the top of the order is a lynchpin of the Omanis batting exploits. His career SR may only be 115, but in a side who prioritise saving wickets to the end his role can be vital in laying a platform to build from.

Bilal Khan on song is one of the most destructive pacers in the Associate circuit. Capable of getting the ball to swing significantly early doors, he will be vital in any defences the Omanis undertake. His spell to clinch the final berth in the qualifier vs Hong Kong was sensational, and Oman will hope for more of the same

Khawar Ali has 35 wickets from 32 matches and his legbreaks will be called upon at regular intervals. Lastly, Zeeshan Maqsood (you may know from his super catch in the 2016 event to dismiss Stirling) will be called on to bowl as well as batting up top.

Weakness

The key weakness in the side is possibly linked to their semi professional status - a struggle at times to put a complete performance together. In recent games Oman have consistently made early inroads into opposition batsmen only to completely run out of gas in the final five overs. They will need to rectify this to overcome their group rivals in this tournament, as in this form of the game 1-2 overs are often the losing margin.

They enter the tournament with quite a bit of expectation given their decent t20 record and home knowledge. They may not have much experience of such circumstances, so it will prove a significant mental challenge for the side to overcome.

The batting line up is hit or miss. Expect either excellent totals or subpar.

Prediction - With home conditions and some decent spin options, I can see Oman pipping Scotland to the final qualifying slot.

Final Prediction

Bangladesh - 6
Oman - 4
Scotland - 2
PNG - 0
 
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Brilliant write-up!

Have high hopes from Ireland!
 
A2 and B1 would be in Pakistan group.

So yea it would most probably be like

Group 1
Australia
South Africa
Westindies
England
Srilanka (A1)
Oman/Scotland (B2)


Group 2
Pakistan
India
New Zealand
Afghanistan
Bangladesh (B1)
Ireland/Netherlands (A2)
 
A2 and B1 would be in Pakistan group.

So yea it would most probably be like

Group 1
Australia
South Africa
Westindies
England
Srilanka (A1)
Oman/Scotland (B2)


Group 2
Pakistan
India
New Zealand
Afghanistan
Bangladesh (B1)
Ireland/Netherlands (A2)

Wanted to edit but do not have permission. Looking back at our group. We could have have had Asia cup within our group if Srilanka could join us 😂
 
Not surprised at all at today's upset. Bangladesh's approach to that chase was surreal. 24 runs in the powerplay on a slow track chasing 140 is madness, showed precious little intent. Combine it with a casual final five overs, they walked off halfway smiling and laughing after letting a team 55-6 reach 140. Ridiculous really.

I said one of BD/SL won't make it. Wouldn't surprise me at all if SL stumbled next. The standard has never been higher and those two sides have precious little experience of proper cut throat qualifying cricket.

BD can't afford any more slip ups now. Least they limited the NRR damage. If Scotland beat PNG and lose to Oman, which may well happen, it will come into play. Assuming Bangladesh win their games ofc.

Fantastic start to the tournament.
 
What a shock it would be to the respective nations if one of BD or SL don't make it as one of the top 4 teams among the associates and minnows. Perhaps BD needed this reality check because neither BD nor SL can slack if they want to avoid such embarrassment.
 
Bangladesh really played by minnows. All that performance against New Zealand was just fluff it seems
 
Maqsood's triple-strike, Oman's new-ball pair, and Chris Greaves' exploits are the highlights of the opening day of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021.

Bangladesh vs Scotland

Group B thrown open

After series victories over Australia and New Zealand at home, the many who had pencilled Bangladesh in for top spot in Group B likely felt vindicated after Calum MacLeod was dismissed to leave Scotland 53/6 into the 12th over. Fast-forward 90 minutes, the early reactions may have looked a little premature.

Against all the talk of Oman, Scotland and Papua New Guinea fighting for second spot, it's now the Tigers forced to play catch-up. Facing a red-hot Oman on Tuesday who have their eyes in after a ten-wicket win over Papua New Guinea, Mahmud Ullah's men must make timely adjustments in order to progress.

At home and with a healthy net run rate Oman will like their chances and possess the capabilities to overshadow their Full Member rivals, who could make adjustments to beef up the batting stocks. Mohammad Naim, left out in the defeat to Scotland, may find his name on the team sheet.

Perhaps in a nod to the overall quality of the group, Scotland’s celebrations despite the come-from-behind victory, were a little subdued. Facing Papua New Guinea in their next match, the Scots were only 4-run winners when the teams met at the 2019 Qualifier, and will need to be at close to their best.

Chris Greaves dominates in spite of international inexperience

Lauded for his versatility on the Scotland domestic circuit, Chris Greaves' performance in just his second T20I quashed any thoughts of the leg-spinning all-rounder being overawed by the spotlight of the big stage.

Coming in with his side in a hole at 52/5 with less than half the innings left, and losing MacLeod next over, Greaves put on a partnership of 51 with Mark Watt (22 from 17 balls). Making 45 (28) in a rescue mission with the bat, doing so largely with the tail, Greaves was then entrusted with the 14th, 16th and 18th overs with the ball, and did not let captain Kyle Coetzer down in a spell of 2/19 to put his team into the ascendancy.

For Coetzer, having the newest member of the team contribute in such a desperate situation suggests his chargers are well-prepared for any World Cup challenge, though for Greaves, even he was taken aback by his starring role speaking after the match.

"We were in a tough situation obviously. It was just a rebuild innings at that stage, and (to) see where we go from there.

"It was unbelievable that I could be that person to really be a part of that."


Oman vs Papua New Guinea


Oman’s fiery new-ball pair

Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah showed just why they are considered one of the most dangerous new-ball pairs in Associate cricket, striking in their very first overs without a run on the board for PNG.

Bilal, who was the leading wicket-taker during the 2019 Qualifiers, got good shape in to the opener Tony Ura, who edged onto his stumps in the fourth ball of the day.

Next over, Kaleemullah teased Lega Siaka with a couple of away-swingers before sending one in shorter and straighter. The opener, who was uncomfortable with his footwork, chopped on, and the middle stump went flying.

Bilal, who was touching speeds of 125kph-plus, was a handful with his pace, while Kaleemullah’s back-of-the-hand slower one proved a handy change-up.

Maqsood's triple-strike

Oman skipper Zeeshan Maqsood had said before the game that he himself would be one of the players to watch on his side – and he showed just why! Maqsood’s left-arm spin denied PNG a chance to accelerate in the final overs, with his second over of the day, the 16th of PNG’s innings, completely turning the game.

In his first over, the skipper had gone for 11 runs, but he brought himself back after a break. On the first ball of the over, the turn foxed Norman Vanua and he was bowled. Sese Bau tried to reverse sweep on the third ball, but found the fielder. Kiplin Doriga then edged to point.

Collecting his Player of the Match award, Maqsood said: “I just try to keep it tight and not give away loose ones.”

Later, he added, "After my first over ... I never thought I would bowl again. But certainly the message from my coach and a few senior players, they insisted I bowl, to change [a few things] and bowl, and it worked."

Jatinder Singh's record for Oman

Jatinder Singh's unbeaten 73 off 42 balls is the highest individual score by a batter in T20Is for Oman.

His innings included seven fours and four sixes, including the final one that sealed victory for the home side.

He was prolific all around the ground, good with the pull and the sweep. Having kept pace with his new opening partner Aqib Ilyas for the most part, he made the most of some loose bowling in the latter part of his innings to quickly knock off the runs in the chase.

Having taken some crucial catches earlier, it marked an all-round good day for him.

"Jati is a main player for us and you could say a backbone for the team," said Maqsood. "If he performs ... definitely the whole system automatically goes up and motivates us. He's that person who can do it for us, and he's always doing it."
 
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sorry we will keep it down next time &#55357;&#56876;&#55356;&#57332;&#56128;&#56423;&#56128;&#56418;&#56128;&#56435;&#56128;&#56419;&#56128;&#56436;&#56128;&#56447; <a href="https://t.co/WRPQF9fK7W">pic.twitter.com/WRPQF9fK7W</a></p>— Cricket Scotland (@CricketScotland) <a href="https://twitter.com/CricketScotland/status/1450002712146370563?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 18, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
Despite beating Bangladesh in their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener, Scotland are keeping their feet firmly on the ground before playing Papua New Guinea, according to all-rounder Michael Leask.

Despite beating Bangladesh in their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup opener, Scotland are keeping their feet firmly on the ground before playing Papua New Guinea, according to all-rounder Michael Leask.

Leask won his 100th cap for his country against Bangladesh but in just his second T20 international, Chris Greaves proved the difference with 45 off 28 balls plus the two crucial wickets of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim.

Papua New Guinea went down by 10 wickets to Oman in their first hit out, but Leask insists Scotland are taking nothing for granted when the two meet at Oman Cricket Academy Ground, Al Amerat on Tuesday, despite many having installed them as the new favourites to top Group B and progress to the Super 12s.

Leask said: “At the moment we are just trying to keep our feet on the ground, take every game as it comes.

“PNG are going to be quite a force in the next game, and we have played against them quite a few times and we know exactly what they are going to come with.

“They pose their own challenges, very different to Bangladesh, but at the moment we are just looking to take it game by game and day by day.

“We are going to try and get into the nuts and bolts of what we want to do for the next game and hopefully take on Oman after that.

“We don’t look into that [PNG’s form] too much, as a squad we are really happy with the way things are going.

“We’ve got 1-17 absolutely champing at the bit and our guys are just in a really good headspace at the moment, which is excellent for Scottish cricket.”

It was not all plain sailing for Scotland against Bangladesh as before Greaves’ heroics they were struggling at 53 for six but Leask revealed the squad believe their side is full of matchwinners and are prepared to win ‘ugly’ if needed.

“In every game somebody different has put their hand up, from 1 to 10 anyone of them are matchwinners with the bat and we trust every individual,” he added.

“Collapses can happen, it’s going to happen in T20. That’s the nature of the game, it’s energetic, it’s fun and that’s the brand we want to play – it’s the nature of the beast, not a problem.

“We were very humbled in the way that the game went for us, it wasn’t exactly the way we wanted the game to pan out but sometimes you’ve got to play ugly cricket to win.”

Papua New Guinea were restricted to 129 for nine by Oman before watching on as Aqib Ilyas, 50 off 43 balls, and Jatinder Singh, 73 off 42 balls, knocked off the runs with 38 balls to spare.

Opening batter Lega Siaka admitted he was surprised to see their next opponents defeat Bangladesh but is confident his side can find form at the right time to pick up a result.

He said: “It was surprising to hear the result of Scotland beating Bangladesh because we know Bangladesh are one of the best teams in the world, so it was an upset.

“I’m excited to play against Scotland after they beat Bangladesh, we are encouraging each other with two games left after the game against Oman.

“It’s about doing the small things right [to help turn things around in two days].

“We are trying to be positive against each team, we don’t see Scotland as a giant we see them as another team who are competing here as well.”
 
Curtis Campher's four wickets in four balls was the major talking point of Ireland's seven-wicket win over the Netherlands in the third match of Round 1 while Sri Lanka looked in ominous form against Namibia.

Curtis Campher makes history

Opting to bat first, the Netherlands recovered from a poor start where they lost two wickets in the Powerplay. Max O'Dowd and Colin Ackermann led the revival before Curtis Campher turned the game on its head in the space of four balls.

Campher sent Ackermann, Ryan ten Doeschate and Scott Edwards back in consecutive balls to become the first player since Brett Lee in 2007 to claim a hat-trick in ICC Men's T20 World Cups. He then dismissed Roelof van der Merwe to become the third man after Rashid Khan and Lasith Malinga to pick up four in four in T20Is.

Campher's heroics broke the back of Ireland's middle order as they were reduced to 51/6 and eventually bundled out for 106.

Max O'Dowd stands tall

Opener Max O'Dowd was the lone warrior for the Netherlands even as he watched his teammates fall one after the other.

Twice in the innings, he had to pull a rescue act: First after the Netherlands lost early wickets and then after Campher sent four batters back to the hut in four balls.

O'Dowd strung together a 29-run partnership with Bas de Leede for the third wicket. Then, in the middle overs, with the Netherlands in all sorts of trouble at 51/6, he and Pieter Seelaar ensured they got to three figures. In the process, O'Dowd brought up his half-century, the seventh of his T20I career, but got out in a bid to up the ante in the death overs.


Massive boost in net run rate for Ireland

Needing to chase just 107 for the win, Ireland used the opportunity to not only put two points on board but also up their net run rate. This could be important later on in a tight group.

Gareth Delany took on the Netherlands bowlers, striking at a rate around 150. And though Stirling was not striking at his best, he stayed at the crease until the end as Ireland romped home with 29 balls to spare, thus getting their net run rate to +1.755.

Captain Balbirnie was pleased with his batters. In the post-match presentation, he said, "Paul set up shop and saw us home, Gareth played the innings we wanted, coming in and hitting it from ball one. Kevin played well up top and got us that 20-30 we needed to settle the nerves. A comprehensive win, so we're delighted."

Sri Lanka crank up the pace

It was no surprise to see Sri Lanka’s spinners produce an outstanding display in their tournament opener, with Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Teekshana taking five wickets between them for a miserly 49 runs. But what was more eye-catching, and possibly more significant, was the Sri Lankan pace attack.

The trio of fast bowlers blew Namibia away, with Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, in particular, showing a level of pace and quality that will trouble the more fancied teams if Sri Lanka reach the Super 12.

It’s a highly versatile attack that Dasun Shanaka has at his disposal, with spinners who can turn it both ways and that three-pronged pace threat, and it gives Sri Lanka a chance of doing something at this tournament, if the batters can keep up their end of the bargain.

Rajapaksa lights it up

Sri Lanka were in a spot of bother at 26/3 after none of their top three fired. A selection decision on that top order may lie in wait for the coaching staff, but the lack of runs in the powerplay didn’t hurt Sri Lanka on this occasion, largely thanks to the exceptional Bhanuka Rajapaksa.

The 29-year-old produced a sparkling free-flowing 42* from 27 balls, smashing the winning runs with his sixth boundary of an exhilarating knock.

Fielding of the highest quality on show

Both Namibia and Sri Lanka provided some terrific moments in the field.

JJ Smit made his catch off Ruben Trumpelmann to dismiss Kusal Perera look far more straightforward than it was, registering Namibia’s first-ever T20 World Cup wicket in the process.

But the moment of the day in the field came from the Sri Lanka skipper, whose jaw-dropping take to remove Trumpelmann could already have the ‘catch of the tournament’ moniker wrapped up.

Running forward and taking a stooping one-handed catch just millimetres from the floor, it was a moment of the highest quality from Dasun Shanaka.


Reason for optimism for Namibia

This was always likely to be Namibia’s toughest test in Group A but, on the way to their seven-wicket loss, the Eagles got overs into eight separate bowlers in an encouraging display of bowling depth.

Not a single one of those bowlers got taken down either, with front-line seamer Trumpelmann the most expensive of the eight on show.

Although Namibia’s innings with the bat never really got going, there was still some encouragement in the form of captain Gerhard Erasmus's 20(19). And top-scorer Craig Williams, who hit 29, showed the ability to clear the ropes too, with his side’s only two maximums.

Netherlands and Ireland await for Namibia, where they will hope to show more of their quality.
 
Enjoyed watching Oman.

I feel if more of unused Indian / Pakistani talent can shift towards Oman, they could become a force in T20s.
 
Tomorrow's matches:

Namibia v Netherlands
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka v Ireland
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
 
Former Scotland captain Preston Mommsen :

There is frustration for Scotland that despite their historic win over Bangladesh, they still find themselves going into the final match against Oman in a must-win situation.

Having said that, coming into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, Scotland would have expected to go into their game against Oman needing a win, so it will not come as a huge surprise.

It was a monumental night when they beat Bangladesh on Sunday, both in terms of the outcome and the manner. Scotland were going up against a team with so much experience, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan had almost 300 T20I caps between them.

So it was some performance, particularly after they were reduced to 53 for six. Most people would have written them off at that stage but Mark Watt and Chris Greaves were unflustered and unfazed by the situation, sticking to the game plan to be aggressive.

Scotland carried the momentum of their batting into the bowling, and there is a lot more depth in the attack now with Brad Wheal and Josh Davey bringing the fight they showed with their respective counties into the World Cup. The spinners then strangled Bangladesh, with Greaves backing up his performance with the bat with the key wickets of Shakib and Mushfiqur.

He should be really proud of his performance, as the whole team should be. It was an historic performance, up there with the win over England at the Grange in 2018 and now it is important to back it up and reach the Super 12s. They did the job against Papua New Guinea but might look back and think they could have killed the game off sooner.

Against Oman the key will be the powerplay, both with bat and ball. Bilal Khan has shown why he is regarded as one of, if not the best fast bowler in Associate cricket and Oman’s strength looks to be the pace bowling, especially under lights.

Generally, I think you need to be aggressive in the powerplay, but against Oman, it may be a case of keeping wickets in hand and looking to take on the spinners.

Then with the ball, Oman have dangerous batters at the top of the order with Aqib Ilyas and Jatinder Singh, so taking early wickets will be key. If Scotland can do that, I think it could be quite comfortable, if not it will be another tough evening.

It's an interesting dynamic watching Bangladesh play here because they are used to going into international games as underdogs, whereas here they are clear favourites and they have not dealt with that well.

They have really struggled with the bat in the powerplay, they just are not hitting enough boundaries. They had two in the powerplay against Oman, which won’t cut it at this level.

If Jatinder had hung around for three or four more overs, that might have been tournament over for Bangladesh, but the important thing is that they won and I expect them to put in a big performance against Papua New Guinea to boost their run-rate. If they do that, they will get through and effectively that is job done, but they will need to make big changes to their batting approach going further into the tournament.

You need to get ahead of the game in the powerplay in these conditions. In the Middle East, scoring in the middle overs can be difficult, so if you can get ahead of the game early, not only does that set you up nicely, it also means the change bowlers are coming on under more pressure. There’s a balance there, you want to take calculated risks, that is where you would need to see Bangladesh change their approach.
 
Great articles.

All associates have done well so far except for PNG and Netherlands.

I feel overall quality of associate nations is going up.
 
Twelve matches in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, we have our first confirmed qualifier for the Super 12 from the First Round, with Group A’s Sri Lanka doing enough to seal their spot.

For six of the seven other teams in the First Round, there is still hope of reaching the next stage of the tournament.


GROUP B
SCOTLAND

Current position: First – Four points – NRR of 0.575

Last game: Oman

What they need to do: Win or hope results go their way

Despite winning their first two matches, Scotland need to win their final group game to guarantee their spot in the Super 12.

That’s because a loss to Oman would see the tournament co-hosts equal them on four points with Bangladesh also able to move to four points if they beat Papua New Guinea.

That would see three teams finish the stage on four points and bring net run-rate (NRR) firmly into the equation.

Of the three teams, Oman currently lead this with an NRR of 0.613, just ahead of Scotland (0.575), who are in turn just ahead of Bangladesh (0.500).

Given how tight that is, if Scotland lose they will be hoping Bangladesh also lose or only win by a slim margin.


OMAN

Current position: Second – Two points – NRR of 0.613

Last game: Scotland

What they need to do: Win or hope results go their way

A win should be enough to secure Oman a spot in the Super 12 stage, as they would finish above Papua New Guinea and likely Scotland too given they go into the match with the superior of their two NRRS. Papua New Guinea can only finish on two points, while Oman’s NRR is superior to Scotland’s going into their match tonight.

If Oman lose tonight, they need Bangladesh to also suffer a greater defeat but not so great that PNG could leapfrog both of them to second.


BANGLADESH

Current position: Third – Two points – NRR of 0.500

Last game: Papua New Guinea

What the need to do: Win and hope results go their way

Thanks to their opening match loss to Scotland, Bangladesh’s fate is not in their own hands.

If they can beat Papua New Guinea and Scotland can beat Oman, they will be locked in for the Super 12 stage.

If they beat Papua New Guinea and Oman beat Scotland, it will come down to NRR for the Tigers, Oman and Scotland.

If they lose to Papua New Guinea, they need Scotland to beat Oman and hope that NRR finishes in their favour.

Play Video


PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Current position: Fourth – Zero points – NRR of -1.867

Last game: Bangladesh

What they need to do: Win their game and hope for a NRR miracle

Despite sitting bottom of the group with no points so far, Papua New Guinea are not mathematically out of the race.

If they can beat Bangladesh and Scotland can beat Oman, Papua New Guinea could go through.

It would take something remarkable, however, given how far behind they are from the other three teams in the group on NRR.


GROUP A

SRI LANKA

Current position: First – Four points – NRR of +3.165

Last game: Netherlands

Locked in

As previously mentioned, Sri Lanka have already qualified for the next round.

They sit on top of Group A with four points, two ahead of Ireland and Namibia. Given Ireland and Namibia face-off in their final match of the round, only one of them can reach four points to at best equal Sri Lanka, earning one of the two qualifying spots.

Sri Lanka will still be intent on winning their final match of the group against Netherlands to both ensure they finish the round on top of the pool and go into the Super 12 stage on a winning run.


IRELAND

Current position: Second – Two points – NRR of -1.010

Last game: Namibia

What they need to do: Beat or tie with Namibia

For Ireland, it’s as close to being a case of 'win or go home' as possible. They currently sit second in the group, level on points with Namibia but ahead with a superior net run rate of -1.010 to the Eagles’ -1.163.

The two teams face off in their final group game, with the winner doing enough to secure second spot and, possibly first if results go their way in Sri Lanka’s match against Netherlands – though it would take something monumental in both games for that to happen given Sri Lanka’s net run-rate of 3.165.

In the unlikely scenario of a tie – Super Overs are in play – or non-result, Ireland would go through ahead of Namibia on superior NRR.


NAMIBIA

Current position: Third – Two points – NRR of -1.163

Last game: Ireland

What they need to do: Beat Ireland

Having beat Netherlands to register their first ever World Cup victory in either format, Namibia are now just one win away from a spot in the Super 12 stage.

Only a victory will be enough for them to progress.


NETHERLANDS

Current position: Fourth – Zero points – NRR of -1.24

Last game: Sri Lanka

Knocked out

After back-to-back defeats, Netherlands are mathematically out of the race.
 
Scotland beat Oman by 8 wickets and finish top of Group B. They progress to play in Group II with India, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Ireland or Namibia, and Pakistan.
 
Namibia made history by qualifying for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 Super 12 stage in their very first appearance at the tournament after beating Ireland in a winner-takes-all Group A shootout.

The African nation timed their chase of Ireland’s 125 for eight to perfection as a half-century from skipper Gerhard Erasmus and pyrotechnics from David Wiese led Namibia, 19th in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I team rankings coming into the tournament, to a phenomenal eight-wicket victory.

The two put on a match winning partnership of 53 in 5.1 overs as Erasmus finished 53 not out from 49 balls and Wiese, the matchwinner against Netherlands, struck an unbeaten 28 at a strike rate of 200 to also secure Namibia’s spot in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.

After only making 27 in the powerplay and sitting at 49 for one at the halfway stage, it looked like Namibia may have left themselves too much to do in reply to Ireland’s innings of two halves.

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie had elected to bat first at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and when experienced duo Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien steered them to 55 without loss in the all-important powerplay, he would have been hoping for far more than the 125 they eventually mustered.

Having shared stands of just eight and 27 in their opening two games, the pair made full use of the fielding restrictions, putting on 62 for the first wicket in 7.2 overs, with Stirling looking particularly fluent on his way to a well-made 38 off 24 balls, including five fours and a six.

But when the former Middlesex man was caught at long-on off the bowling of Bernard Scholtz, attempting to land his 250th six in T20 cricket, it triggered a change in fortune for the men in green as they went on to add only 57 runs in the remaining 11.2 overs.

O’Brien soon followed for 25 as he holed out off the bowling of the impressive Jan Frylinck, who finished with Namibia’s best-ever World Cup figures of three for 21, as Ireland lost two wickets for five runs in the space of just eight balls.

Things could have been even better for the tournament debutants as Ireland skipper Balbirnie enjoyed a charmed existence.

The 30-year-old narrowly avoided being run-out before surviving a huge lbw appeal from Pikky Ya France, which Namibia surprisingly declined to review despite DRS showing it would have been overturned.

No-one outside the top three made it into double figures for Ireland the final four overs began with Balbirnie’s dismissal for 21 and Ireland scored just 24 for the loss of five wickets as Wiese, two for 22, and JJ Smit, one for 27, shone at the death with the ball.

Namibia made a steady start in pursuit of 126 and only a phenomenal one-handed catch from Kevin O’Brien saw the back of in-form opener Craig Williams for 15 off 16 balls off the bowling of Curtis Campher.

No.3 Erasmus survived an lbw shout on just two off Mark Adair which would have sent him packing if Ireland had reviewed but he took full advantage steering his side home.

The 15th over proved crucial as two booming sixes from Wiese changed the course of the game before Erasmus again escaped, Craig Young’s delivery clipping his stumps without dislodging the bails.

Fittingly after Erasmus had brought up his 50, it was Wiese who sealed victory with nine balls remaining, smashing a boundary off Young to spark the celebrations.

Scores in Brief

Namibia beat Ireland at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah by eight wickets
Ireland 125/8 in 20 overs (Paul Stirling 38, Kevin O’Brien 25; Jan Frylinck 3/21, David Wiese 2/22)
Namibia 126/2 in 18.3 overs (Gerhard Erasmus 54 not out, David Wiese 28 not out; Curtis Campher 2/14)
Player of the Match: David Wiese (Namibia)
 
24 October - Sharjah - Scotland's Calum MacLeod pre-match press conference




Q. You're going to come up against Rashid Khan tomorrow, and you've bested him before at the qualifiers in 2018 and had a chance to play him in June this year in T20 Blast. What's the key to bat against him in this format, especially on such pitches that tend to favour spinners a lot?

CALUM MACLEOD: First thing, I think it'll be a challenge against all their spinners. I think everyone understands the attack that Afghanistan have got with three world-class spinners in there.

I think the biggest thing is you have to try and put the pressure back on them. I think like all the top-class teams that you play against, if you let the bowlers just bowl at you, their skills will be too good for you over a period, so I think you have to find a method of putting the pressure back on them, whether that be with sweeping or coming down the wicket, whatever your method is about it, and I think you've got to stick to it and be pretty disciplined to go with it.

Q. You had a very, very good performance, the team had a very good performance in the initial round. How do you rate your chances overall against the Afghanistan team?

CALUM MACLEOD: I think the good thing of having the first round is that we've come in with confidence. We've obviously topped that group with three good hard games of cricket, so I think we'll come into the game with confidence.

Obviously I think it'll be Afghanistan's first game in the tournament, and we can also go in there and put some pressure on them.

I said it before this started the first round, we feel we've got a batting unit filled with some exciting powerful players, and we just hope that we'll be able to showcase that and go out and -- just because we're now into the Super 12s, I don't think that changes much for us. I think we'll come and play the aggressive type of cricket we want to play.

Q. Obviously in your group there's a lot of experience, but can you just maybe touch on Shane and Kyle's kind of relationship and how that kind of leadership works with the group?

CALUM MACLEOD: Yeah, it's a great combo. They try and keep things as relaxed as possible. Obviously out here in specifically this tour in the bubble, in the bubble life in hotels, they've made sure that we've all been able to do things, find ways of enjoying things that we want to do, so when we get to the cricket it's a nice relaxed atmosphere.

I think that's been one of the best things they've done. They've managed to keep it fun. Every time we turn up to the ground, everyone is just raring to go.

On top of that, they've found a way of giving everyone a role and a real clarity to go out there and play the way that we need to for the team, and I think that's shown so far. Guys have come in, you look at the way that Chris Greaves and Mike Leask specifically have taken to their roles, I think it's been brilliant, and I think that comes from the confidence that Shane and Kyle have given them.

Q. How significant has this qualification for the Super 12 stage of this T20 World Cup been for the whole team?

CALUM MACLEOD: I think it's hugely significant, not just for the team but for the organisation and some of the aspirations that Cricket Scotland have. We want to be the leading associate, and we want to push our case to be the next full member.

I think if you look specifically at the way Afghanistan and Ireland did it, they did it from doing well at World Cups, and I think we've now got five great opportunities to go out and show world cricket what this organisation and the team is about.

Then for the players it's a great showcasing opportunity to show some of the Twenty20 skills that this group has and get them out there on the world stage. You never know what sort of opportunities can come on the back of this for some of the players if they have a good group stage.

Q. I just wanted to ask you, from the disappointment of not qualifying for the 2019 World Cup where there was so many close losses and fine margins to winning all three matches here and progressing to the next stage, can you just talk to us about the contrast of emotions there and the journey there?

CALUM MACLEOD: Yeah, I think sometimes you need those disappointments to really spur us on. I don't think there's ever been a game of cricket I've thought about as much as that West Indies loss, and I think that framed a lot of the way we changed the way we trained, trained in a little bit more specific ways about key moments and winning things.

It started with Grant, and then Shane has come in and carried that on brilliantly, to a stage now where some of these key moments that happen in games that we don't even probably think about as much as we might have used to, and I think that shows in the way that we're playing. Guys are playing with so much clarity and confidence and a smile on their face that we want those moments. We want to be in those moments, and each one of us wants to be the guy that stands up and wins that game for the team.

I think that's just the maturity of the squad being together for a number of years now, that we know each other well and we know how each other is going to win the game. I think that's just the way the team has matured.

Q. What was the atmosphere back home after the news of the qualification?

CALUM MACLEOD: Yeah, it was amazing the messages from so many different people. I think all of Cricket Scotland has been waiting for this sort of moment where we do it on the world stage and show just how good we are and how much passion there is for the game in Scotland. There's so many clubs and so many different people involved from junior ages all the way up to the senior men's and women's teams that have gotten involved in pushing this organisation forward.

I think everybody was just ecstatic and excited to see us go on to the Super 12s and show what we've got.

Q. And what about the family?

CALUM MACLEOD: The family were delighted, even if it means being away for a bit longer. Yeah, mom and dad were obviously very proud, and they've helped me a lot since I first started with Cricket Scotland at age 11, and then my wife and my young son were delighted, as well.

Q. Afghanistan's top order boasts of quite a few big hitters and fast starters, which is key in Sharjah, but at the same time Scotland bowlers have enjoyed great success in the preliminary round in the powerplay. How do you look at that matchup?

CALUM MACLEOD: I think it's going to be a fascinating matchup. I think it will help both our batters and challenge the bowlers in a different way. I think Oman, the pitch was maybe not quite so conducive to the powerplay for the batters, so I think as a batting unit we're going to have to change quickly to what a par score in the powerplay is going to be, and our bowlers are going to be put under some definite pressure. But I think these are three seamers who we've relied on so far, even if Mark Watt has to bowl in the powerplay, as well. I think we've got a unit who can swing the ball that can bowl with definite skills who hopefully will be able to challenge what is a dangerous Afghanistan top order and hopefully come out on top.
 
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