Little, Munsey look to hike the tricky hill
Four players to watch on the road to T20 World Cup Qualifiers
Tobias Visee (Netherlands)
Two years ago at the Desert T20 Challenge, Visee lasted all of three balls in two matches. A pair of awful shots led to two lbw dismissals against Scotland and Hong Kong. He ended that event with nine career runs in four T20Is overall and had to wait until the summer of 2018 to get another opportunity.
After 18 months in the wilderness, Visee made a series of brisk starts in the T20I tri-series on home soil against Scotland and Ireland. Though he only made 82 runs in the series as an opener, his strike rate of 164 convinced coach Ryan Campbell that he was worth persisting with. His fearlessness in particular - he wouldn't hesitate to scoop or ramp fast bowlers inside the Powerplay - was a standout aspect. His unbeaten 58 off 23 balls a month later at Lord's against an MCC side was a portent of things to come this past week in Oman. Visee arrived in Muscat with 102 career T20I runs in nine matches, but by the time he left he had nearly tripled that, ending as the tournament's leading scorer with 193 runs.
The average opening stand by the Dutch with Visee in the middle was 98.67 as the 28-year-old homegrown late bloomer showed greater maturity deciding when to switch between orthodox and unorthodox shot selection.
The left-hander's confidence appears to have grown immensely since his maiden ODI half-century in the famous victory over England at The Grange in June last year.
He carried that form into the T20I tri-series against Netherlands and Ireland later that month, totaling 204 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 182. The winter hasn't dulled his skills one bit, judging by his 208 strike rate during the Oman quad series, the best of anyone who faced more than 10 balls.
Munsey provides a solid left-hand foil for captain Kyle Coetzer at the top, can drive medium pacers confidently during the Powerplay and then is a menace with the reverse sweep to spinners in the middle overs once he gets set.
After making his T20I debut as a 16-year-old against Hong Kong in the summer of 2016, Little has had a stop-start career. This has largely been down to his decision to simultaneously pursue academics. But don't let the lengthy gaps between international appearances for Ireland fool anyone into thinking he is not a first-choice T20 bowler when available.
On pitches that were by and large a graveyard for fast bowlers - Little only took two wickets - the 19-year-old left-armer stood out amongst all teams in Oman for his clever variations. Topping out at around 135 kph, Little's slower ball clocks in around 110-115 kph, just enough difference to fool batsmen without giving them too much time to adjust.
Little ended the tournament with a very respectable 7.75 economy rate, but was especially impressive at the death. In Ireland's two famous T20 World Cup opening round defeats to Netherlands in 2014 and Oman in 2016, they struggled to find a reliable option at the death for bowling yorkers and slower balls to stem the scoring rate but with Little they may just have found what they've been searching for.
After a debut series in 2017, the diminutive 33-year-old had to wait for his chances due to ICC's then eligibility guidelines allowing a maximum of two four-year resident players in a starting XI. It meant being stuck in a queue to get another opportunity even as others made the most of their chances. After two years on the bench, a number of squad injuries in the leadup to the T20I Quad series opened the door for Nawaz's return.
In the mold of a West Indian batsman of old, Nawaz showcased flamboyant footwork and strokeplay. He single-handedly revived the Oman innings against the Netherlands with 58 off 34 balls. Despite a winless run, Oman will be a scary team to face at the T20 Qualifier once the likes of Zeeshan Maqsood and Aqib Ilyas return to full fitness to set a platform for Nawaz to close out.
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna