ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier March 21, 2012

Afghanistan, Namibia in line for first World T20 spot

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After a physically demanding 56-game group stage at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, six countries enter the knockout stage on Thursday with a chance to go to Sri Lanka in September for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20.

The round-robin group stage winners - Afghanistan and Namibia - will face off for a chance to clinch one of the two available spots in the 12-team main event. The second and third place teams in each group - Netherlands and Canada in Group A, Ireland and Scotland in Group B - will have to win three matches in three days, with the third game taking place on Saturday against the loser of the Afghanistan-Namibia contest, in order to claim the second available spot.

The two teams that clinch berths in the ICC World Twenty20 will then play in the tournament final on Saturday night. The winner will be slotted into Group B in Sri Lanka alongside Australia and the West Indies. The runner-up gets the consolation prize of Group A matches against India and reigning World Twenty20 champions England.

Afghanistan v Namibia (1st in Group A v 1st in Group B)

After a pair of tight victories to start off Group A against Papua New Guinea and the Netherlands, Afghanistan coasted through the rest of pool play to finish with seven wins from seven. Mohammad Shahzad and Karim Sadiq are second and third overall on the tournament runs aggregate list, with 261 and 255 respectively. When the team ran into trouble against PNG and Canada, Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari contributed key half-centuries. If one member of the batting unit fails, someone is always ready to pick up the slack.

Dawlat Zadran has stepped up in the absence of Hamid Hassan to lead the bowling unit with 11 wickets, including 5 for 14 against Hong Kong. The spin trio of Sadiq, Shenwari and Zamir Khan have bowled economically and combined for 19 wickets.

They'll have their hands full against a very deep Namibia batting lineup which brutalised Group B bowling attacks to be the highest scoring team in the tournament and also finish undefeated. The Namibians batted first in six out of seven games, posting big totals to build scoreboard pressure. Raymond van Schoor has played a major role in that, leading the tournament in both runs and average with 323 at 80.75.

Louis van der Westhuizen scored one of the tournament's two centuries with 106 not out in 54 balls against Scotland and his strike rate of 172.72 is the best of anyone in the tournament with a minimum of 50 runs. Opener Gerrie Snyman is also a tone-setter: he is Namibia's third-highest scorer with 173 runs, 69% of which have come in fours and sixes.

Namibia had two close games against Ireland and Uganda, both of which were won by four runs. Their recipe for success against Scotland, USA and Italy was to bat them out of the game to mask an average bowling attack. They'll have to do the same if they are to come out on top against Afghanistan.

Ireland v Canada (2nd in Group B v 3rd in Group A)

William Porterfield and Ed Joyce have had their moments with the bat for Ireland but the unheralded Gary Wilson has been doing the dirty work down the order in Dubai to give them six wins out of seven in their group. He has made contributions with the bat in every innings to be the team's leading runscorer, with 206, and is third overall in average behind Shahzad and van Schoor at 51.50. His efforts both behind the stumps and with the bat have helped to fill the void left by Niall O'Brien.

Boyd Rankin didn't get to play in this tournament two years ago, missing it through injury. He's made the difference for Ireland over the last eight days, with 12 wickets. For players with a minimum of 10 overs bowled in the tournament, Rankin has the best economy at 3.69. George Dockrell, the left-arm spinner, has had a somewhat quiet tournament thus far, taking nine wickets with an economy of 5.91. He'll need to step up in the play-offs to give Ireland their best chance of winning, especially since John Mooney and Alex Cusack have both succumbed to injuries.

Canada lost heavily to Netherlands and Afghanistan and survived scares from Papua New Guinea and then Nepal on the last day of the group stage to finish third. Ruvindu Gunasekera leads the team with 230 runs, but 178 of those came by bullying the bottom two teams in Group A, Denmark and Bermuda. Otherwise, their batting has struggled against the teams in the top half of their group, with the best effort coming via Nitish Kumar's 57 in the six-run win over PNG.

The bowling hasn't been much better, with six of legspinner Junaid Siddiqui's 10 wickets coming against Hong Kong and Nepal. Canada's bowling unit is the weakest of the six teams that are in contention for the two qualifying spots and it would be a shock if they were able to put together a string of performances to catapult them into Saturday's final.

Netherlands v Scotland (2nd in Group A v 3rd in Group B)

Netherlands have been one of the most balanced and efficient teams in the tournament. They took Afghanistan into the last over before losing by four wickets with two balls to spare and, thanks to some key bowling at the death by Timm van der Gugten, held off Bermuda by four runs. Otherwise, Group A was a breeze as they finished with six wins and one defeat.

Stephan Myburgh notched three half-centuries at the top of the order but their best innings of the group stage came from Worcestershire batsman Alexei Kervezee, whose scored 58 at No. 4 against Afghanistan. Peter Borren hasn't had much work to do with the bat, but may be required for a rescue effort or two in the play-offs. With the ball he has 10 scalps, while Mudassar Bukhari has provided good support. Michael Swart's all-round skills have also been essential. He's second behind Myburgh with 191 runs and his offspin has taken eight wickets with an economy of 4.45.

Scotland scraped into third place in Group B after a shock defeat to USA on Tuesday nearly allowed Kenya to pass them on net run-rate. Had USA reached their target of 162 one ball sooner, Kenya would be playing Netherlands instead. Scotland were also thrashed by 49 runs against Namibia and were behind the eight-ball throughout their unsuccessful chase against Ireland.

Calum MacLeod's half-century was crucial in their hard fought win over Kenya and he also scored an unbeaten century against Oman. When MacLeod and Richie Berrington have clicked at the top, Scotland have had success; when they haven't the middle order has struggled to prop the team up and that played a part in Scotland's underwhelming group-stage showing.

With their captain, Gordon Drummond, and Gordon Goudie both going down injured, the responsibility has been left to Majid Haq and Preston Mommsen to take charge with the ball. Haq has responded with 12 wickets and Mommsen has eight. However, Scotland's catching and overall fielding was a major letdown in the loss to USA.

Play-off structure

The winner of the Afghanistan-Namibia contest goes straight through to Saturday's final. The loser gets a rest day before taking on the last team standing from the other side of the draw. The winner of Ireland-Canada will take on the winner of the Netherlands-Scotland on Friday for the right to play the loser of Afghanistan-Namibia on Saturday morning. Whichever team wins that match will take the second spot in Saturday night's final - the only match in the tournament to be played under the lights at Dubai Sports City. Both finalists gain a place at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.

Edited by Alan Gardner

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anil_Koshy on March 23, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    ICC should do something to prevent teams like Canada, Hong Kong, USA and Oman from participating in the qualifying tournament who rely only on borrowed cricketers and expatriates, the presence of such teams block good teams like Nepal, Uganda and PNG from emerging.

  • on March 22, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    Ireland need a bit of luck to go through but i think we have the ability to do it, we are indeed world beaters..... hail hail

  • Alan50 on March 22, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Where do you get this rubbish from BeReal87? The Namibian team is completely Namibian - no foreign players. And they come from a very tiny pool of only several thousand serious cricketers in the whole country of only 2 million in total. Go Namibia!

  • on March 22, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    I just want to correct Be Real. All the players in the Namibian team were born in Namibia except for Christi Viljoen, who'se father was born in Namibia. However down here we hear that Afghanistan has a lot of Pakistani born players in their team, is that true?

  • BeReal87 on March 22, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    Good luck Afghans, you guys deserve to win it.

  • BeReal87 on March 22, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    I think Afghanistan really deserves to win and be a part of the T20 world cup. The reason for that is all the hard work, dedication and pure enthusiasm of the players. They have started with so little and achieved so much. All the players in afghan side are local players from Afghanistan where as in Nambian side there are players from other countries. Good luck Afghanistan.

  • on March 22, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    ICC is making a mockery with the World Cups..be it One dayers or T20s. At least 4 teams from associate members should play in World Cups. The rest of the years, prior to the WCs, ICC has to ensure that the best 6 associate teams should be visiting the 'Priviledged' Test Playing countries to get enough of exposers and play against the National 'A' teams of the Test Playing Countries. Say for example if the current 6 best associate members, Afghanistan, Ierland, Namibia, Netherland, Scotland and Cannada / PNG visit to test playing nations to get exposers with different level and condition, against the 'A' teams, with a series of 1-2-3 (One 3 Day match, 2 One dayers and 3 T20s), it will help them immensly and within 5/6 years time, we can see more competitive teams brought up to compete in the international circuit.

  • Dashgar on March 22, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    Should be an Afghanistan win, Namibia have played out of their skin so far but the Afghans are more talented overall and are getting better and better as the tournament progresses.

  • redgamer on March 22, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    I agree with Mezba, they should have let four teams in. Seriously, Ireland, Afghanistan and Namibia - even Netherlands - would all give a team like NZ or Bangladesh a close game. Great pity only two of the teams will make it. Who wants tournaments featuring the same old eight-nine teams everytime?

    BIG game between Afghanistan v Namibia. I think Ireland could beat either one, so an auto qualification will be important for both.

  • AshfaqueSayani on March 22, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    ideally ICC should have allowed all 6 teams to participate in t20 worldcup on one side ICC wants to spread the game , on other hand, not allowing many nations to prestigious events.

    ICC should learn from FIFA on how to spread the game.

  • Anil_Koshy on March 23, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    ICC should do something to prevent teams like Canada, Hong Kong, USA and Oman from participating in the qualifying tournament who rely only on borrowed cricketers and expatriates, the presence of such teams block good teams like Nepal, Uganda and PNG from emerging.

  • on March 22, 2012, 10:24 GMT

    Ireland need a bit of luck to go through but i think we have the ability to do it, we are indeed world beaters..... hail hail

  • Alan50 on March 22, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Where do you get this rubbish from BeReal87? The Namibian team is completely Namibian - no foreign players. And they come from a very tiny pool of only several thousand serious cricketers in the whole country of only 2 million in total. Go Namibia!

  • on March 22, 2012, 9:37 GMT

    I just want to correct Be Real. All the players in the Namibian team were born in Namibia except for Christi Viljoen, who'se father was born in Namibia. However down here we hear that Afghanistan has a lot of Pakistani born players in their team, is that true?

  • BeReal87 on March 22, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    Good luck Afghans, you guys deserve to win it.

  • BeReal87 on March 22, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    I think Afghanistan really deserves to win and be a part of the T20 world cup. The reason for that is all the hard work, dedication and pure enthusiasm of the players. They have started with so little and achieved so much. All the players in afghan side are local players from Afghanistan where as in Nambian side there are players from other countries. Good luck Afghanistan.

  • on March 22, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    ICC is making a mockery with the World Cups..be it One dayers or T20s. At least 4 teams from associate members should play in World Cups. The rest of the years, prior to the WCs, ICC has to ensure that the best 6 associate teams should be visiting the 'Priviledged' Test Playing countries to get enough of exposers and play against the National 'A' teams of the Test Playing Countries. Say for example if the current 6 best associate members, Afghanistan, Ierland, Namibia, Netherland, Scotland and Cannada / PNG visit to test playing nations to get exposers with different level and condition, against the 'A' teams, with a series of 1-2-3 (One 3 Day match, 2 One dayers and 3 T20s), it will help them immensly and within 5/6 years time, we can see more competitive teams brought up to compete in the international circuit.

  • Dashgar on March 22, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    Should be an Afghanistan win, Namibia have played out of their skin so far but the Afghans are more talented overall and are getting better and better as the tournament progresses.

  • redgamer on March 22, 2012, 4:26 GMT

    I agree with Mezba, they should have let four teams in. Seriously, Ireland, Afghanistan and Namibia - even Netherlands - would all give a team like NZ or Bangladesh a close game. Great pity only two of the teams will make it. Who wants tournaments featuring the same old eight-nine teams everytime?

    BIG game between Afghanistan v Namibia. I think Ireland could beat either one, so an auto qualification will be important for both.

  • AshfaqueSayani on March 22, 2012, 4:01 GMT

    ideally ICC should have allowed all 6 teams to participate in t20 worldcup on one side ICC wants to spread the game , on other hand, not allowing many nations to prestigious events.

    ICC should learn from FIFA on how to spread the game.

  • ZsZs on March 22, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Desperately want to see Afghanistan playing with the big boys in T20 WC! missed them in wc11, Asia Cup ... don't want to wait any more. Gooooooooooo Afghans!

  • NAZMO-CRICKFANN on March 22, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    All the best to the Afghans

  • Anil_Koshy on March 22, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    Great to see the associate members playing very good cricket, its time that ICC should do something to promote teams like Afghanistan, Ireland, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland, Nepal, Uganda and Kenya. It is sad to see presence of teams like Canada, USA, Hong Kong with their expatriate cricketers blocking place of more deserving teams Nepal and Uganda

    Let any team qualify except Canada, it is an insult to cricket to see a team like Canada beating Nepal with the help of borrowed cricketers.

  • class9ryan on March 22, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    can it b IRELAND . they deserve 2 b there along with d namibians.............

  • on March 22, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Afghanistan a talent who has got less experience other countires I am feeling confident cause I believe on Afghan cricketers who are just like loins always attacks the other team. Afghanistan never accepts pressure Dawlat zadran who can bowl upto 144.9 KPH will take on Namibia. I think Namibia is a team has brought lots of cricketers from other countries I know that only a few are from Namibia lets see if Namibia can do good performence against Afghanistan. Afghanistan batting line is the strongest now they have got 9 batsmen who can hit huge Sixes & timing fours. Good luck Afghanistan & Namibia Faid Nassari Afghanistan

  • huttse96 on March 22, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    PNG is a reapidly rising nation in a few years time theyll be the IReland of cricket

  • 777aditya on March 22, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    too bad these matches are not relayed on Indian TV - would have loved to see them! whatever I have seen of Afghanistan against the one off ODI they played against Pakistan, they sure looked a decent side - hope against hope that the associate teams perform brilliantly in the upcoming T20 WC in September so that ICC might then allow more and more countries to play in future world series (4 is a bare minimum) - good luck to all the 6 sides, may the best side (read Afghanistan) win!

  • brittop on March 21, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    What's happened to Kenyan cricket? A few years back it would have been a surprise that they did not qualify for the "play-offs".

  • on March 21, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    I wish they allowed 4 teams to qualify for the World t-20. Ireland, Afghanistan, Holland, Namibia and Canada all need international exposure and are very close in quality (Canada has slipped in recent times). - Mezba

  • CricketingStargazer on March 21, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    Afghanistan? Namibia? Ireland? Any one of them could win. Even The Netherlands could pull off a shock. Can't see Canada or Scotland threatening anyone. For the romantic it has to be Afghanistan: 100% home grown and passionate - the sooner they and Ireland get the chance to play Test cricket, the better.

  • on March 21, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Afghanistan is unbeaten and will remain unbeaten thanks to the great coaching of Kabir Khan which we shall not forget. He was the one who stood up and took the team into this level. Sometimes we Afghans are a little bit ignorant.

  • on March 21, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    this Namibia side is very strong as they showed with their group stage performances, but it will be interesting to see how they do with the pressure on for a world cup place. if they play to their full potential they are very capable of beating Afghanistan. Phil Simmons said before the tournament that they were dark horses who would probably surprise everyone. For the loser it's going to be very tough knowing that they will likely be playing a strong dutch side or an irish side which may well be reinforced by Murtagh.

  • on March 21, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    i hope Afghanistan win icc world twenty20 Q. Afghanistan have 11 Afridi boom boom i love all players good luck inshallah win ..

  • on March 21, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    great article Peter! Keep up the great work

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    Both Afghanistan and Namibia are strong and talented sides. Prior to the tournament, they had a warm-up match, which was a very tight one and ended up in favour of Afghanistan by just 3 runs. Let's hope Afghanistan wins tomorrow's match again and qualify to the T20 World Cup.

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    Come On Afghanistan take the first position where you deserve to be. i am more than confident that with likes of Karim Sadiq, Shahzad, Shinwari and Noor Ali we will win the game tomorrow and step in to the final. Namibia are unbeaten too and beat Ireland and Scotland on the way to top the groupe. but i do not think they can cope with quality of Afghanistan. Can't wait to watch this game.

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Afghanistan ANd Canada.Good luck for Haq

  • on March 21, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    why the hell is the match up between namibia and afghanistan not accorded full t 20 status.

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  • on March 21, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    why the hell is the match up between namibia and afghanistan not accorded full t 20 status.

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    Afghanistan ANd Canada.Good luck for Haq

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    Come On Afghanistan take the first position where you deserve to be. i am more than confident that with likes of Karim Sadiq, Shahzad, Shinwari and Noor Ali we will win the game tomorrow and step in to the final. Namibia are unbeaten too and beat Ireland and Scotland on the way to top the groupe. but i do not think they can cope with quality of Afghanistan. Can't wait to watch this game.

  • on March 21, 2012, 18:53 GMT

    Both Afghanistan and Namibia are strong and talented sides. Prior to the tournament, they had a warm-up match, which was a very tight one and ended up in favour of Afghanistan by just 3 runs. Let's hope Afghanistan wins tomorrow's match again and qualify to the T20 World Cup.

  • on March 21, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    great article Peter! Keep up the great work

  • on March 21, 2012, 20:50 GMT

    i hope Afghanistan win icc world twenty20 Q. Afghanistan have 11 Afridi boom boom i love all players good luck inshallah win ..

  • on March 21, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    this Namibia side is very strong as they showed with their group stage performances, but it will be interesting to see how they do with the pressure on for a world cup place. if they play to their full potential they are very capable of beating Afghanistan. Phil Simmons said before the tournament that they were dark horses who would probably surprise everyone. For the loser it's going to be very tough knowing that they will likely be playing a strong dutch side or an irish side which may well be reinforced by Murtagh.

  • on March 21, 2012, 22:07 GMT

    Afghanistan is unbeaten and will remain unbeaten thanks to the great coaching of Kabir Khan which we shall not forget. He was the one who stood up and took the team into this level. Sometimes we Afghans are a little bit ignorant.

  • CricketingStargazer on March 21, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    Afghanistan? Namibia? Ireland? Any one of them could win. Even The Netherlands could pull off a shock. Can't see Canada or Scotland threatening anyone. For the romantic it has to be Afghanistan: 100% home grown and passionate - the sooner they and Ireland get the chance to play Test cricket, the better.

  • on March 21, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    I wish they allowed 4 teams to qualify for the World t-20. Ireland, Afghanistan, Holland, Namibia and Canada all need international exposure and are very close in quality (Canada has slipped in recent times). - Mezba