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7 players to watch out for at the World Cup Qualifiers


ICC_Cricket_World_Cup_QualifiersFor teams like West Indies and Zimbabwe and many associate nations, the World Cup Qualifiers are no less important than the world cup itself. The stakes are high and the level of competition fierce. Even as Zimbabwe are playing on home soil, they will be wary of the threat that fiercely competitive units carry into a stage where the rules are pretty simple: do or die. It’s too good a chance for rising minnows of world cricket, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, UAE, Hong Kong, to pull off upsets. As 10 teams compete for 2 spots in the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England, it’s all to play for.

Here are 7 players from associate nations who might help their teams edge out the competition in the qualifiers:

1. Rohan Mustafa, UAE

While contesting in the World Cup Qualifiers is an oddity for teams like Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies, all part of the 2015 edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup, for UAE, the competition presents a different challenge. The team is battling to safeguard its ODI status. And if there’s a man who can help the team achieve dream of getting on a flight to England, it’s captain Rohan Mustafa.

A man who has battled economic difficulties and a great deal more since picking up the game at the tender age of 10, Mustafa has come a long way since he was selected for the UAE Under-19 team. He is a determined top-order batsman well regarded for his abilities to negotiate both spin and pace. He has consistently impressed with his starts in ODIs, but has thus far failed to convert them into meaningful scores.

He doubles up as a useful off-spinner for his side, and recently asked questions of batsmen from Scotland and West Indies. He will be hoping to add to his tally of runs in the current tournament.

2. Boyd Rankin, Ireland

As soon as the focus shifts to Ireland cricket, critics and fans immediately turn to the heroic batting abilities of Kevin O’Brien and their seasoned craftsman at the top order, Ed Joyce. But in tearaway fast bowler Boyd Rankin- athletic, agile and, experienced, Ireland are fortunate to have useful bowling resources that can help them shift the momentum of a contest in their direction.

At the towering height of 6’7, Rankin generates that extra bit of pressure that can shake up batsmen and ask questions of their technique. If the pitches are seaming and provide good carry, the sight of Rankin running in can be an ominous sign for the opposition. Ireland will hope he does just that as they challenge for a position in the final two.

3. George Munsey, Scotland

Few batsmen in the Scottish team play the cover drive and the backfoot punch as elegantly as 25-year-old George Munsey. While his stats do not do justice to his tremendous talent, Munsey’s long-term potential as a dependable bat for Scotland cannot be doubted. He’s the kind of player the top order stars – Matthew Cross and Kyle Coetzer – would love to bat around and stitch useful partnerships with.

Munsey recently made headlines for his defiant 77 against Ireland at Bulawayo in a practice game where the ball didn’t come onto the bat in a way batsmen liked. An athletic fielder with a safe pair of hands, the World Cup Qualifiers should ideally offer an exciting opportunity to Munsey to make the most of his hitherto unfulfilled talent.

4. Sese Bau, Papua New Guinea

One of the most talked about players in the PNG side, Bau is a prolific left-handed batsman who can bludgeon tons of runs once he gets going. Even as the 25-year-old leftie can test the nerves of his side by taking his sweet time to settle down, especially on bowling-friendly wickets, once he gets going, PNG’s star batsman is difficult to dismiss. Someone who admires Adam Gilchrist and plays quite a few exquisite strokes square on the off side, Bau has a huge reputation to live up to in this tournament.

5. Dawlat Zadran, Afghanistan

News about Afghanistan has, more often than not, been about the mind-boggling abilities of Rashid Khan, who has enabled his side to dismiss much more potent sides for modest totals. But to say that Afghanistan is all about Rashid Khan and his unplayable googlies would be doing a great injustice to a side that also boasts talents like Dawlat Zadran, a shining star and one to watch out for in the times to come.

Zadran might not be a menacingly quick bowler, but his effective medium-pace deliveries have enough bounce and carry to upset a batsman’s tempo. With a rhythmic, high-arm action, he can keep a tight check on the scoring rate, resulting in batsmen attempting slogs to break the pressure. More often than not, these led to Zadran claiming a wicket.

The West Indies learnt a hard lesson about the Afghan’s abilities as their batsmen offered no resistance in the face of Zadran’s skill and accuracy.

6. Shane Snater, The Netherlands

The Netherlands have disappointed on the big stage despite having qualified to the World Cup on a number of occasions in the recent past. One player who is determined to restore the team’s consistency is 20-year-old, Zimbabwe-born pacer Shane Snater, who is excited at the prospect of returning to his birthplace in a bid to make a difference for his team.

The Dutch have great bowling depth, but Shane Snater’s electrifying presence adds a sparkle to Netherland’s white ball attack. He made headlines for his maiden five-for against Ireland in the Intercontinental Cup last September. Snater’s ability to chip in with useful wickets and break established partnerships mark his presence in the Dutch team as second to none. Netherlands will hope their rising fast bowler grows from strength to strength in the mega tournament.

7. Sandeep Lamichhane, Nepal

Nepal’s cricketing hero has for a long time been their captain, Paras Khadka, a swashbuckling batting all-rounder. But now, it pays to have young guns like Lamichhane, one of the youngest competitors in this tournament.

A leg-spinner who is not afraid to toss the ball up or make full utilization of the cracks in the surface to add biting turn, Lamichhane will hopefully assist an often bowling-reliant Nepal to restrict the totals of their opponents.

At 17, Sandeep has many cricketing seasons ahead of him and he approaches the future with great zeal and enthusiasm.


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