Preview: Asia World T20 Qualifiers

The final regional World T20 Qualifiers commences today for Asia. Six teams will be competing for a spot in the global qualifiers. The winner will compete against Zimbabwe (Africa), Scotland (Europe), USA (Americas) and Papua New Guinea (East Asia Pacific)

Teams:

Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Bhutan, Kuwait, Hong Kong

Malaysia

Malaysia is currently placed 35 in the ICC Rankings. They have played 24 T20 Internationals, winning 9 of those. Of the teams competing in this tournament, they have played UAE (0 wins from 2 matches), Hong Kong (0-1), Nepal (0-2) and Kuwait (1-0).

With the bat Malaysia will be relying on their most consistent pair of captain Winifred Duraisingam and Mas Elysa, both the team’s highest run scorers. Winifred is the only player in the team to have scored a half century.

Mas Elysa is also the team’s leading wicket taker. The leg-break bowler has a best of 6-3 against China and also has 3-9 against Kuwait. Nur Nadihirah and her off-breaks will be another to watch.

It is a steep mountain for Malaysia to climb but they have a strong domestic competition and may surprise a few teams.

United Arab Emirates

Current ranking is 16th so should be considered as a front runner in this group. They have won 8 of their 16 matches, 7 losses and a tie. Against the other competitors in this tournament they have played Malaysia (2-0), Hong Kong (1-0), Kuwait (1-0) and Nepal (0-2) making the latter the only team against whom they have lost.

Former Sri Lanka Test and ODI player Chamani Seneviratne is expected to shine with both bat and ball. Her experience has been a key factor for the team in the past and she has plenty to offer the team in this tournament.

Three players have scored half centuries for the UAE, Esha Rohit (2), Kavisha Egodage (1) and Nisha Ali. Esha Rohit (357) and Chaya Mughal (217) are the teams leading run scorers. There are others who will score runs but one would expect the bulk of them to come from these players. Significantly three of the top five scores for the UAE have come against Malaysia.

Chamani Seneviratne has the best bowling figures on record for the UAE, 5-3 against Kuwait. Her right-arm medium pace is matched by Subha Venkataraman, indeed, both are the leading wicket takers. Do they have spin to match the pace, is the question.

UAE has a realistic chance of winning this tournament. Their biggest hurdle will be…

Nepal

The top ranked team (14th) in this tournament and deserving of the favourites tag. Of the 17 T20 Internationals played by Nepal they have won 14 of them and their only losses have come against Thailand (2) and Bangladesh (1), both teams of significantly higher level.

By way of tuning up for this competition Nepal played a three match series against Qatar which they won 3-0. It makes them the only team here to have played a T20 International in two years.

Sita Magar scored a team high 82 against Qatar, as well as a 39. She is Nepal’s highest run scorer so that bodes well. Also scoring runs against Qatar were skipper Rubina Belbashi, Indu Barma and Kabita Kunwar. The batting looks solid.

There’s a good balance in the Nepal bowling with handy right-arm medium pacers Kabita Kunwar, Saraswati Kumari and the captain. I like the left-arm pace option provided by Sita Magar. A little thin in the spin department, but have two handy off-break bowlers in Karuna Bhandari and Sabnam Rai.

It will be a very good team that can topple Nepal.

Hong Kong

Captain Kary Chan and her team have beaten every team in this competition except for UAE and Nepal and that’s reflected in their ICC ranking of 25. This tournament is a perfect opportunity for the team to lift to the next level.

Kary is the key batter for the team along with Yasmin Daswani and former captain Mariko Hill. The big hurdle for this team will be putting on good totals for they have only passed 100 once in their 15 matches so far.

With the ball, the leg-break bowler Betty Chan is definitely one to watch. She’s the second leading wicket taker for Hong Kong behind her captain and is a classic leggie. In the pace department Mariko Hill may be the fastest bowler in the tournament.

They’ve just come off a full domestic season so this Hong Kong outfit should be match fit. Will they have enough to win the tournament?

Bhutan

Only four matches for Bhutan since gaining T20 International status and yet to record a win. Hopefully this tournament will change that for them. If nothing more, it will be a brilliant experience for captain Yeshey Choden and her team. The Lady Dragons are the lowest ranked team (44th) in this tournament. If they can they improve upon that in this competition then that is a win in itself.

Kuwait

Current ICC ranking of 34 suggests that Kuwait are a team like Bhutan who will take much from this tournament by way of experience. They have won three of their eleven matches so far but not against any of the teams in this tournament. It will be tough going for Amna Tariq and her team but on the positive side the conditions should suit this team. Like Bhutan the key takeaway from this tournament will be the experience.

* Photo: ICC

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