Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

T20 World Cup: what Netherlands and the rest of the qualifiers can bring to the table in Australia

PNG, Ireland, Namibia, Scotland and Oman finished as the six best teams in the T20 Qualifier in the UAE

The Netherlands celebrate winning the T20 World Cup Qualifier final against Papua New Guinea at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The Netherlands celebrate winning the T20 World Cup Qualifier final against Papua New Guinea at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The final six teams to play in the first round of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year have been decided.

Papua New Guinea, Ireland and Oman will be joining Sri Lanka in Geelong, while Netherlands, Namibia and Scotland will meet with Bangladesh in Hobart.

On the evidence of the past three weeks in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, each of those teams has a chance to cause a stir on the big stage.

Netherlands

The inverted accepted wisdom by winning in the UAE with an attack based on quick bowlers, rather than spin.

That should bode well for 12 months’ time, given Australian pitches generally reward pace bowlers.

What will they be noticed for: Fast bowlers

Netherlands bowler Brandon Glover. Pawan Singh / The National
Netherlands bowler Brandon Glover. Pawan Singh / The National

Brandon Glover was the matchwinner for the Dutch in both the match against UAE which earned qualification, and the final against PNG.

He took 16 wickets – the second most – in the tournament, had a fine economy rate of 5.89, yet might not even have been their most threatening quick.

Paul van Meekeren was also prolific, and was nearly touching 145km/h in the final.

Papua New Guinea

PNG’s uplifting qualification for Australia was the archetypal team effort. Their highest-ranked batsman in the run charts was 12th, while their leading wicket-taker was ninth.

Every time they were struggling, they found a new hero, like when Norman Vanua rescued them from 19-6 in the vital win against Kenya.

What will they be noticed for: Team song and fielding

Papua New Guinea's Lega Siaka. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Papua New Guinea's Lega Siaka. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The “Barramundis” sing when they are winning – and at a lot of other times, too.

They are a joyful side to watch, which translates in their effort and athleticism in the field.

Ireland

Ireland’s success over the past decade, elevation to Full Member status, and plucky performances in Tests against Pakistan and England veils the fact they are indifferent in T20s.

Qualification was secured, but they lost three of their eight games, which shows they are not the dominant force they once were in this company.

What will they be noticed for: New faces

Ireland's Gareth Delany. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Ireland's Gareth Delany. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“No matter what XI we pick, we are pretty inexperienced, with maybe three or four guys with a lot of experience,” Gary Wilson, the captain, said.

While Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien are well known, maybe 22-year-old leg-spinner Gareth Delany will be one to announce himself in Australia.

Namibia

They secured their return to the world stage for the first time since the 2003 World Cup in fine style, with a fine comeback win over Oman in their play-off. It banished the memories of a number of near misses at tournaments like this.

What will they be noticed for: Gerhard Erasmus

There are plenty of Namibian players who could catch the eye in Australia.

JJ Smit can be a brutal late-order hitter, and Jan Frylinck is a skilled left-arm seamer.

But their 24-year-old captain Erasmus, who was the player of the tournament, has three chances of getting spotted. As a batsman and bowler, clearly, but he also has a penchant for spectacular catches.

Scotland

They entered the Qualifier as the highest-ranked team, but had a good look around before finally making it to Australia.

They lost to Singapore, and finished fourth in their group, but then powered to a 90-run win over UAE in their play-off.

What will they be noticed for: George Munsey’s reverse sweep

Scotland's George Munsey. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Scotland's George Munsey. Chris Whiteoak / The National

In their last-chance eliminator against UAE, Munsey played six reverse sweeps in a row against Sultan Ahmed. Two ended up way back in the stands for six.

Not that the opener is a one-trick pony. His powerful striking at the top of the order should catch the eye in Australia.

Oman

At least there will be some Middle East representation in the World Cup.

Oman proved their appearance at the World T20 in India was no fluke, as they booked a return trip to the tournament.

They did stutter with qualification in sight, but their comeback win against Hong Kong in the last-chance eliminator spoke of a side with plenty of character.

What will they be noticed for: Mankads

Oman celebrate their opening victory over UAE. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Sports Council
Oman celebrate their opening victory over UAE. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Sports Council

With bowlers like Bilal Khan, the left-armer who was the Qualifier’s leading wicket-taker, Oman are not short of conventional skill.

They do not mind how the wickets come, though. Aamir Kaleem has proved a Mankad expert in the past, while Fayyaz Butt went for one – and missed – when the game got close against Hong Kong.

Updated: November 3, 2019 12:37 PM

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