Home / Sports / Cricket World Cup qualifier: Six talking points

Cricket World Cup qualifier: Six talking points

Two-time champions West Indies and 1996 winners Sri Lanka are among 10 teams competing for the final two spots at this year’s Cricket World Cup in India.

AFP Sport picks out six talking points at the June 18-July 9 qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe:

Windies, Sri Lanka hoping to avoid embarrassment

Former champions Sri Lanka and the West Indies have both played at every World Cup since the inaugural edition in 1975, won by the all-conquering Caribbean side.

The Windies had to come through the qualifier for the 2019 tournament, edging into the final, where they lost to Afghanistan, to book a spot in England and Wales, AFP reports.

Sri Lanka, who have impressed in the longest format recently and almost reached the World Test Championship final, only mustered seven wins from 24 matches to finish 10th in the World Cup Super League table.

They kick off their Group B campaign against the UAE on Monday, after the West Indies take on the USA in their first Group A game on Sunday.

Nepal bidding for history

The cricket-mad South Asian nation are still yet to reach a World Cup but have been gradually getting closer.

Nepal finished eighth in the qualifier for the 2019 tournament and came agonisingly close to reaching last year’s T20 showpiece.

They topped their group at the qualifier for that event with three straight wins, only to lose to the UAE in the semi-finals when a win would have made

Nepal claimed an impressive win over Oman in a warm-up game on Thursday, chasing down 268 having reduced their opponents to 7-4 with the ball.

Big year ahead for US cricket

The next 12 months promise to be groundbreaking for US cricket as the country co-hosts the 2024 T20 World Cup along with the West Indies.

Major League Cricket, a six-team T20 league featuring the likes of Quinton de Kock, Aaron Finch and Jason Roy, will debut in July as the sport attempts to crack the American market.

Yet to appear at the main tournament, the USA will rely on the runs of Steven Taylor, Aaron Jones and Sai Mukkamalla and the wicket-taking ability of pace bowler Ali Khan.

However, Khan is set to serve a two-match suspension for running foul of the ICC’s code of conduct after claiming 7-32 against Jersey in a heated qualifier play-off in Windhoek.

Talented Tector central to Irish hopes

One of three brothers to captain Ireland at an Under-19 World Cup, Harry Tector has a crucial role to play if his country is to end an eight-year absence from the tournament.

The 23-year-old was named ICC player of the month for May, the first Irishman to win the award, and is seventh in the ODI batting rankings — averaging 53.33 in 30 innings.

Tector made an unbeaten 149 in a warm-up game this week against the United States, further underlining his importance to an Irish middle order still in the rebuilding phase after multiple retirements towards the end of the last decade.

Scotland aiming to right 2018 wrongs

In the same tournament five years ago, Scotland were on the brink of knocking out the West Indies and grabbing a place at the World Cup.

But a controversial lbw decision — with no DRS available — and rain sent the Scots tumbling to a five-run defeat on DLS method.

Scotland have qualified for the one-day World Cup three times but have lost all 14 of their matches at the tournament.

But strong results in recent T20 World Cups, including a surprise run to the Super 12 stage in 2021, will give them confidence of laying their 2018 demons to rest in Zimbabwe.

DRS will be used at the qualifier for the first time from the Super Six stage onwards.

UAE bank on more Khan fireworks

Pakistan-born Asif Khan had to bide his time before qualifying for the UAE through residency after moving to the country in 2017, combining his playing duties with coaching children.

The 33-year-old made his international debut last year and starred as the UAE came second in the World Cup qualifier play-off, finishing as the tournament’s leading run-scorer.

He made 96 in a vital win over Namibia and scored a century in a losing effort against the USA. However, his most eye-catching knock came in March when he smashed 101 not out off 41 balls against Nepal — the fourth-quickest ODI hundred ever.