Preview: ODI World Cup Qualifiers

Harare Nov/Dec 2021

Nine teams will compete for three vacant spots in the 2022 World Cup in New Zealand in March and a further two positions in the ICC World Championships. What can we expect from these teams and can we predict who will make it to the second stage, the Super Sixes in this edition of the ODI World Cup Qualifiers?

Group A:

Ireland

Comes into the series following good form against Zimbabwe here in October so should have a good idea of the conditions. Captain Laura Delany is in good touch with the bat and leads the team well. The team is well traveled and well performed in the twenty over format but has little experience in ODI cricket. Most recently the successful tour against Zimbabwe (3-1). The good news is they need to finish in the three of four here and you would back them to finish above Netherlands – maybe even Sri Lanka, so if the team plays well they can realistically look towards the Super Sixes.

Along with Delany, Ireland will be looking at openers Gaby Lewis and Leah Paul, as well as young gun Amy Hunter, recently having scored a brilliant century in this format.

A positive sign is the return to the bowling crease of Orla Prendergast. Her in-swingers have been difficult for opposing batters and she’s a key for this team moving forward. Very handy with the bat too. Good spin options with trio Celeste Raack, Cara Murray and Eimear Richardson.

Netherlands

Skipper Heather Siegers and her team will know they are facing an uphill battle in this tournament. The allrounder will be ever present with both bat and ball, yet Heather and her entire team will be making their ODI debut in this tournament.

Important batters for the team will be opener and wicket keeper, Babette de Leede, as will Sterre Kalis, the team’s leading run scorer in T20 Internationals. Along with Robine Rijke, the trio will be the engine room with the batting, along with Juliet Post and the skipper.

Iris Zwilling is impressive with the new ball and gets some good shape. Took 3-38 in the trial against Bangladesh. Quite good given that only seven wickets fell. Wicketless but economical in the warm up was fellow pacer Marloes Braat. They’re a good pair, backed by the captain’s own seamers. A good trio of spinner in Eva Lynch, Caroline de Lange and Silver Siegers. Watch the latter with her leg spin – could have a huge impact.

At best the Netherlands can hope to make the final six but will need a lot going their way.

Sri Lanka

Runs from one to eleven in their trial match against the USA, nothing up 300+ with several batters retiring, then rolling the opposition for 126 with ten bowlers used. And so it should have run that way, a Full Member nation against an Associate team. How will they go against the big guns?

The positive for Chamari Atapattu is that the runs did not all come from her bat, for so long an issue for Sri Lanka. Either side of her in the top order, Harshitha Madavi and Hasini Perera, solid players with good techniques but both averaging about 20. They’ll need more than that if they want to progress. Hopefully newcomer Imesha Dulani is able to add some starch to the innings.

West Indies

A mauling of Thailand in the warm up match followed a 3-0 hammering of Pakistan in Karachi. This team is in great form and frankly one wonders what they are doing in this tournament. They will win it hands down and without raising a sweat.

With captain Stafanie Taylor back to full fitness – testimony to that 132 not out against Pakistan a week ago – and Deandra Dottin in sparkling form, the runs are coming hot for the West Indies. Allrounder Hayley Matthews also seems to have found her mojo – player of the tournament in Pakistan.

A good balanced attack with the bustling Shamilia Connell, career best figures against Pakistan and the ever reliable Shakera Selman will take the new ball. Some good signs for Aaliyah Alleyne who rounds out the pace attack along with Chinelle Henry. Spin is well covered with leading all-time wicket taker

Anisa Mohammed, Matthews and Taylor, while newcomer Qiana Joseph continues to improve. The team has three wicket keepers but is at it best with Shemaine Campbelle behind the stumps.

The West Indies will go through the group stage unchallenged and should comfortably find their way to the World Cup.

Group B

Bangladesh

Could well be the surprise packet of this tournament. Consider this: Bangladesh had not played an ODI for two years before the recent series against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo which they won 3-0. They show a great energy in the field, backing up their bowlers who all appear to have a spring in their step.

It’s a strong bowling attack led by veteran pacer Jahanara Alam who is bowling better than ever, and dare it be said, a yard faster. She doesn’t just carry the pace attack – she is the pace attack.

In a world of left-arm slow bowlers dominating the landscape, Nahida Akter shines brightly. Her demolition of Zimbabwe was clinical and deadly. She is just one of a battery of slow bowlers. This is the strength of this team and they do it well and with great variety. Salma Khatun generally opens the bowling with her off-breaks and rarely misses. Rumana Ahmed is the team’s leading wicket taker with her leg-breaks. And more leg-breaks with Fahima Khatun. The team has more spin than a washing machine.

Fargana Hoque has long been the mainstay with the batting, along with Rumana Ahmed but keep a close eye on young opener Murshida Khatun, showing she is more than capable at this level.

Mark this team down as a good chance to take one of the three World Cup spots.

Pakistan

Pakistan primed themselves for this tournament by hosting West Indies for three ODIs. They were soundly defeated 3-0 but were missing captain Javeria Khan, Kainat ImtiazNida Dar and Diana Baig for the first match and key allrounder Nida Dar for the entire series. Fortunately Nida is back with the team for these qualifiers.

This is a team that struggles for runs even with a full team. They have tried many combinations this year – young blood, old blood – still the same story. That the best batter, the captain Javeria, has not scored a half century in 10 outings this year is telling. The batting around her is brittle.

The bowling is a completely different matter, as is the fielding. These are two strong areas for Pakistan. The young fast bowler, slowly morphing into an allrounder, Fatima Sana, will have a big part to play. She brings a positive energy to this team. Fellow pace ace Diana Baig is also sure to give 100% with both her bowling and in the field, where she excels at point.

A battery of left arm slow bowlers led by Anam Amin is a feature of Pakistan’s attack. Joining her in the task Nashra Sandhu and Sadia Iqbal. Rounding out this superb slow bowling attack is veteran Nida Dar.

Thailand

Thailand have been preparing for this tournament all year with series against Zimbabwe and South Africa Emerging Players. Their form suggests that they are a sure bet to get through the group stage and into the Super Six.

The transition of the captaincy from Sornnarin Tippoch to Naruemol Chaiwai has been seamless. The new skipper has really taken to the role while the former skipper is in the form of her life.

With the bat, Natthakan Chantham has been in sizzling form in the 50 over matches in 2021, as has new vice-captain and wicket keeper, Nannapat Koncharoenkai. It is hard to believe the latter is only 21 and she has taken like a duck to water in the 50 over format. She has an incredibly bright future ahead of her and potentially the next captain of Thailand.

The strength of Thailand has always been their tight bowling and energetic fielding. Have they managed to maintain that in the longer form? Short answer, yes. That is always a hurdle for a team, concentrating for longer in the field but make no mistake, this team is ready and primed for ODI cricket.

United States

This will be a tough encounter for the United States but a priceless experience for Sindhu Sriharsha and her team. Fresh from their victory in the ICC Americas World T20 Qualifiers, the team will be buoyant, but the task here against full member nations is a considerably difficult assignment.

The strength of the USA is their bowling attack, led by left-arm pacer Tara Norris. She is well supported by Moksha Chaudhary and Sara Farooq both right arm pacers. However the one to look out for is fifteen year old medium pacer Suhani Thadani who has a great future ahead of her. Bowls exceptionally good line and length. Hard for spin to get a look in after the pace quartet but those duties will be handled by off-break bowler d Akshatha Rao.

The batting looks stronger with the addition of Lisa Ramjit. The teenager missed the T20 qualifiers, and that showed. She will bolster a batting line-up that includes Gargi Bhogle, Shebani Bhaskar and newcomer Mahika Kandanala. Coached by former Test and ODI player for Australia, Julia Price, this team will find it tough but if anyone can get them well prepared it is Price.

Zimbabwe

Saved the best till last. The home team will be keen to perform in front of their home crowd and in their home conditions. Mary-Anne Musonda will need to lead from the front, both as captain and batter. Although relatively new to ODI cricket, Zimbabwe have played plenty of 50 over cricket this year and indeed won their first official match against Ireland in September, helped along by a century from the skipper.

Runs will also need to come from openers Modester Mupachikwa and Sharne Mayers. Mupichikwa has a solid defence and is savage on anything short. Mayers is very experienced and gives a real boost to the top order. A real key to this team will be the fitness of allrounder Josephine Nkomo. She is pivotal with both bat and ball, and Zimbabwe will be looking to her for good numbers.

Good variety in this bowling attack. The bustling Esther Mbofana hurries batters along and she grows with every outing. Left arm seamer Nomvelo Sibanda can be a real handful when she’s on song. Nkomo just adds another dimension again. Good spin bowling options with Loryn Phiri and the ageless Precious Marange.

First job for this team is to be in the top three of this group. If they play to their potential that is a realistic goal.

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