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Eight-team Associate T20I tournament slated for January

The eight-team tournament, which will involve Ireland, is being viewed as a signal that a 2018 edition of the World Ct20 would be approved AFP

The eight Associate countries with T20I status are set to take part in a round-robin tournament planned for the start of the new year, multiple sources have told ESPNcricinfo.

Although a 2018 World T20 is yet to be confirmed by the ICC, a source said that this tournament is being viewed as a strong signal that the 2018 World T20 will be approved. The tournament would also be separate from a possible World T20 Qualifier involving other Associates advancing out of their regional tournaments that could be held later in 2017 or early 2018 pending ICC approval of a World T20 in 2018.

In addition to the top six Associates with dual ODI and T20I status - Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, Hong Kong, UAE, Papua New Guinea - the two other participating countries are Netherlands and Oman, who each secured T20I status by qualifying for the 2016 World T20 in India. The tournament is tentatively scheduled for January 6 to 20 at the ICC Academy in Dubai.

According to one source, both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have also been invited, but their participation is not confirmed. For Afghanistan, Scotland, Netherlands, and Oman, this would be their first T20Is since the 2016 World T20 in March. Ireland hosted Hong Kong for a T20I series in September. For UAE, these would be their first T20Is since reaching the main draw of the Asia Cup in February, while PNG's last T20Is came in February when they lost a series 1-2 to Ireland in Townsville.