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ESPNcricinfo's picks for the best eleven performers at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifer in the UAE
Peter Della Penna
December 1, 2013
Tony Ura (Papua New Guinea)
336 runs at 37.33
Papua New Guinea came desperately close to securing a spot in the top six, and Ura was a big reason why. His two best scores were against the two toughest teams in Group B. He hit a 100 in an emphatic win over the Netherlands and 56 in a frustrating loss to Afghanistan. He was the second-highest scorer in the tournament, and had the most runs of any opening batsman. Although not physically imposing, his timing is crisp and he tied for the most sixes at the event with 14. He's only 24-years-old so PNG have plenty of years to build around him.
Paul Stirling (Ireland)
292 runs at 36.50, 11 wickets at 11.00
One of only two players to remain from last year's Tournament XI, Stirling continues to evolve from being just a devastating hitter at the top of the order to an allrounder who makes a handy contribution with the ball. Kenya's Steve Tikolo, Nepal's Paras Khadka and Stirling were the only players to be in the top 20 for both runs and wickets. He was named Man of the Match twice. The first time was against Namibia for making 52 in 36 balls, and the second against Hong Kong for scoring 77 off 46 and taking 4 for 10 in four overs. He arguably should have had a third award for his belligerent 76 off 43 balls against Afghanistan in the final, but Trent Johnston won out in a sentimental vote seeing as it was his last T20 match for Ireland. Stirling has a growing reputation for saving his best when it matters most for Ireland and this tournament was no exception.
Matt Machan (Scotland)
364 runs at 45.50
After starting 1-3 in Group B, Scotland were very nearly eliminated from contention for the top six before the play-offs began but they bounced back in a big way only to fall just short of a spot in Bangladesh. Machan was a big reason his team stayed in contention until the bitter end against the Netherlands. He scored four half-centuries, tied with teammate Calum MacLeod for most in the tournament, including one in each game against the Netherlands. He was the leading tournament run-scorer and set a new event record, breaking Paul Stirling's total of 357 runs from a year ago.
Wesley Barresi (Netherlands)
264 runs at 33.00
The Dutch wicketkeeper started poorly with back-to-back ducks against Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea before making modest contributions with the bat during the rest of the group stage, but his team may not have secured a spot in Bangladesh were it not for his fearless 75 not out against Scotland in the play-offs. The Netherlands looked shell-shocked after failing to chase the UAE's 117, but Barresi put the team on his back a day later to knock off Scotland's 147. He had the second-most dismissals behind the stumps in the tournament with 10.
Paras Khadka (Nepal)
232 runs at 29.00, 11 wickets at 18.18
Along with Stirling, Khadka is a mainstay from the 2012 Tournament XI. With more than half of Nepal's games being broadcast either online or on television at this tournament, many cricket fans outside of Kathmandu will have gotten their first glimpse of why this man means so much to his country. His raw stats don't tell the full story as his numbers are not as glamorous compared to others in the list, not to mention those outside of the XI. After a first-day win over Denmark, Khadka stayed to the end with 54 not out as Nepal chased Kenya's 182. The performance validated Nepal's ambitions of finishing in the top six, though they might not have progressed to Bangladesh without his Man-of-the-Match performance against Hong Kong, when he anchored the chase of 143 with a cool 46 in 39 balls.
Khurram Khan (UAE)
255 runs at 36.42, 9 wickets at 19.00
Khurram Khan steered the host country into the main draw in Bangladesh with his all-round exploits. At 42, Khan has showed no signs of slowing down, and was his team's leading scorer at the event, finishing ninth overall. A Man-of-the-Match performance with 2 for 18 and 67 not out against Hong Kong ensured UAE would finish in the top three of Group A and get two cracks at securing a spot in Bangladesh. They would only need one though after thwarting the Netherlands in defense of 117.
Samiullah Shenwari (Afghanistan)
85 runs at 17.00, 16 wickets at 8.25
Shenwari can easily get lost in the plethora of bowling options available to captain Mohammad Nabi, and he wasn't even handed the ball in two of Afghanistan's nine games, but he outshone the rest of his teammates over the previous 16 days to be named Player of the Tournament. The legspinning allrounder nabbed three Man-of-the-Match awards during the event, the most by any player, for his performances in wins over Papua New Guinea, Kenya and in the semifinal against Nepal. His 5 for 13 against Kenya was one of only four five-wicket hauls in the tournament, but Shenwari was a much more consistent threat than the other three who pulled it off, and he wound up tied for third overall in the tournament wickets' column with 16.
Munir Dar (Hong Kong)
17 wickets at 13.05
In a team full of young guns, Dar is the wily old fox still hanging around to impart not just wisdom, but plenty of skill as well. The left-arm spinner took 17 wickets, which was second overall, and the most of any slow bowler at the tournament. Twice he took 4 for 17, against the USA and Canada, but his most important contribution came in the play-offs against Papua New Guinea. With qualification into the World Twenty20 at stake, he chipped in with a vital 22 in the first innings before taking 3 for 26 and effecting a run out in a 29-run win to book a place for Hong Kong in Bangladesh.
Mudassar Bukhari (Netherlands)
16 wickets at 15.31
The medium pacer had to shoulder a bigger load at this tournament without Timm van der Gugten, but he more than handled it. Bukhari finished with 16 wickets overall, tied for third in the tournament with Shenwari. He was named Man of the Match twice, first in a win over Nepal with figures of 3 for 15, and later against Kenya with a return of 3 for 14. There has been much turnover in his team's bowling options over the past few years, but he has remained a constant and useful presence.
Max Sorensen (Ireland)
14 wickets at 10.64
Sorensen is a fast bowler chiseled out of granite and he possessed the requisite intimidation factor both with physique and pace to keep opposing batsmen in check. He finished with 14 wickets, which only puts him tied for eighth, but part of that is down to the fact that Ireland had a group game washed out and also played two less games by virtue of booking a place straight into the semifinals after an undefeated run in Group A. A more telling stat was his average of 10.64, which put him behind only Shenwari and Ahsan Malik for bowlers in the top 20 wickets' list. His lethal spell of 4 for 15 against UAE in the semifinal meant Ireland's 147 was too steep a target.
Ahsan Malik (Netherlands)
21 wickets at 10.00
Malik and Sorensen were the only two bowlers in the tournament to bowl and take a wicket in every one of their team's games. Malik took 12 in seven group games, but was just as prolific in the playoffs, taking eight in the final three matches of the tournament. His value was not just a knack for taking wickets but also in his ability to keep batsmen off balance. He was difficult to get away and his 5.67 economy rate was the second best of any pace bowler in the top 20 wickets list at the tournament.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Peter Della Penna
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