C’wealth Games Qualifier Preview
We look at the five teams participating in the Commonwealth Games Qualifier in Kuala Lumpur for the one remaining spot. The winning team will be heading to Birmingham in July to participate in the Commonwealth Games. The tournament runs from the 18th – 24th January.
The highest ICC ranked (8th) team in this field and might reasonably expect to be favourites. With captain Chamari Atapattu leading the way with her considerable talent with the bat the Sri Lankans certainly must be considered as potential winners of this tournament.
Counting against this team is the fact that their last T20 International was at the World Cup in Melbourne in March 2020. They haven’t even backed the car out of the driveway, let alone stretch it out on the open road. This must be a real concern: you don’t get match fitness in the nets. To win this tournament Sri Lanka will need to hit the ground running with a victory in their first match, against Scotland on 18th.
Chamari Atapattu (c), Harshitha Madavi (vc), Kavisha Dilhari, Ama Kanchana, Achini Kulasuriya, Sugandika Kumari, Sachini Nisansala, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Prabodhani, Vishmi Rajapaksha, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Anushka Sanjeewani, Tharika Sewwandi, Nilakshika Silva, Prasadani Weerakkody
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Hit the ground running in a recent ODI series in Zimbabwe and were looking good in the recent World Cup Qualifiers until that tournament was unexpectedly cancelled. On the form they displayed in that small window one could have easily put money on them to win this competition.
The form of left-arm slow bowler Nahida Akter was mesmerising in those series, the allround skill of Rumana Ahmed, solid batting of Fargana Hoque and Murshida Khatun, with a seemingly rejuvenated fast bowler Jahanara Alam, who might never have bowled better. The experienced Nigar Sultana leads the team from behind the stumps.
There does seem to be some behind the scenes issues with this team however. Jahanara has not been selected, part of a list of standby players. She is not just their premier pace bowler but Bangladesh’s entire pace attack, dropped for disciplinary reasons. There are other rumoured ructions from within the camp. More’s the pity because this team has a red hot chance of winning this tournament. Hopefully they can rise above their woes.
Nigar Sultana (c, wk), Rumana Ahmed, Sharmin Akhter, Nahida Akter, Sanjida Akter Meghla, Suraiya Azmin, Fargana Hoque, Fahima Khatun, Murshida Khatun, Salma Khatun, Lata Mondal, Ritu Moni, Sobhana Mostary, Shamima Sultana (wk), Fariha Trisna
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Kathryn Bryce and her team are currently ranked 13th but must be considered a very good chance here. On their day they can beat any of these teams but lapses in concentration can be their undoing. Put it all on the table here for four matches and they are through.
Bryce will be leading from the front with both bat and ball while her sister Sarah Bryce is key with bat and behind the stumps. If Lorna Jack fires with the bat Scotland generally win.
Good pace options with Bryce, Katie McGill and Priyanaz Chatterji while the young Katherine Fraser‘s star continues to rise with her cunning off-breaks.
Kathryn Bryce (c), Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Sarah Bryce (wk), Priyanaz Chatterji, Katherine Fraser, Lorna Jack, Ailsa Lister, Abtaha Maqsood, Megan McColl, Katie McGill, Hannah Rainey, Charis Scott, Rachel Slater, Ellen Watson
The 22nd ranked ICC team might appear to be out of their depth here but one must put those rankings aside. Expect this team to perform well. If they pull everything together in KL they are a realistic outside chance.
Captain Margaret Ngoche is clever and aggressive with her field placing and is a captain who thinks on her feet. She will have Queentor Abel at very short cover for much of the tournament. It’s a wonderful field placement and Queentor excels in that spot as she does with both bat and ball – a major player in this team.
Joining Queentor at the top of the order is the energetic Veronica Abuga. If those two are still there at the end of the Powerplay then Kenya can mount big totals. They are key to the team’s success.
Good bowling options with both pace and spin. Watch out for the colourful off-break bowler Sarah Bhakita (also known as Sarah Weteto). She bowled Kenya to victory in the final of the Kwibuka tournament in Kigali in 2021 with her excellent and deceiving use of flight.
Margaret Ngoche (c), Queentor Abel, Veronica Abuga, Ruth Achando (wk), Sarah Bhakita, Lavendah Idambo, Sharon Juma (wk), Sylvia Kinyua, Mary Mwangi, Monicah Ndhambi, Daisy Njoroge, Mercyline Ochieng, Flavia Odhiambo, Venasa Ooko, Jane Otieno, Esther Wachira
This will be a tough assignment for the home team and playing In Kuala Lumpur is at least a slight advantage. If crowds are allowed in to the games then they could be expected to give the team a lift.
Winnie Duraisingam and her team are no easy beats and may cause an upset here. They performed well in the recent ICC World T20 Asia Qualifiers. They’ll be looking for continued good batting from Mas Elysa, Wan Julia, Elsa Hunter and the captain herself, all who make up the core of the innings and all off good form at that recent event.
Mas Elysa will also be expected to do it with the ball, as Malaysia’s leading wicket taker. Keep an eye on the off-breaks of Nik Nur Atiela.
Winifred Duraisingam (c), Nik Nur Atiela, Sasha Azmi, Aisya Eleesa, Mas Elysa, Ainna Hamizah Hashim, Jamahidaya Intan, Wan Julia (wk), Dhanusri Muhunan, Nur Arianna Natsya, Nur Natasya Nazira, Amalin Sorfina, Nor Dania Syuhada, Yusrina Yaakop, Wan Nor Zulaika
Who is heading to Birmingham? We shall see in a week’s time. The competition commences on the 18th January. The two leading Asian teams in the tournament would seem to have the best chance and if pushed, I’d say Bangladesh. That said, Scotland could well pull it off and the Kenyans must not be underestimated.