World T20 Qualifiers - Playoffs Preview
Russell Degnan

First Qualifying FinalAfghanistanvNamibia
Expected MarginAfghanistan by 3 runs
Qualifying Prob.76.5%72.5%
Leading ScorerMohammad Shahzad 261 @ 52.2 (127.31)R van Schoor 323 @ 80.75 (112.93)
Leading Wicket-takerDawlat Zadran 11 @ 9.81 (5.68)C Viljoen 11 @ 13.09 (6.75)

Afghanistan coasted through group A, with only the Netherlands challenging them strongly. Their bowling came through, despite the absence of Hamid Hassan, with only Bermuda making over 150 in a game they had well in hand. Karim Sadiq has been very consistent at the top and the middle order has capitalised, scoring rapidly. Namibia were also undefeated in their group, but did so with very tight victories over Ireland and Uganda, and some other scares. When their batting was on they scored very heavily, with multiple players producing innings of note; as the tournament progressed they've had more trouble however. Their bowling came through when it mattered, and they were deserving winners of a difficult group. Nevertheless, Namibia are rightly underdogs in this first final.

First Elimination FinalNetherlandsvScotland
Expected MarginNetherlands by 2 runs
Qualifying Prob.9.4%7.9%
Leading ScorerSJ Myburgh 245 @ 40.8 (131.01)CS MacLeod 248 @ 41.33 (137.01)
Leading Wicket-takerPW Borren 10 @ 12.10 (6.05)RM Haq 12 @ 12.83 (5.56)

The Netherlands have snuck under the radar a little bit. A big victory over Canada and a close loss to Afghanistan set them for second in the group early on, with big wins in their last three games making it a formality. The batting has been particularly strong and they look well placed to challenge for that final qualifying place. Scotland, by contrast, were fortunate to make it through, so easily might Berrington's final ball have been sent to or over the boundary. Their batting has produced big scores with contributions throughout the order, but their bowling has been repeatedly smashed - particularly by van der Westhuizen - and the possible loss of Sharif to injury won't help. The Dutch are slight favourites, but that's a very slight slight.

Second Elimination FinalIrelandvCanada
Expected MarginIreland by 23 runs
Qualifying Prob.28.9%4.7%
Leading ScorerGC Wilson 206 @ 51.5 (124.09)R Gunasakera 230 @ 32.85 (134.50)
Leading Wicket-takerWB Rankin 12 @ 7.08 (3.69)Junaid Siddiqui 10 @ 14.10 (5.35)

Unlike the other five finalists, Canada arrive at this stage with some problems. Cheema's form is woeful, the kids in the top three are at turns brilliant and hopeless, they were beaten badly in the two games against the group leaders, and perhaps fortunate not to be over-hauled by Nepal in the final game. Their opponents unexpectedly didn't top the group, but did everything right throughout. Rankin has been near unplayable, and they rarely conceded more than a run-a-ball. Their concern is whether the batting will hold up when they need to; Stirling and Porterfield haven't been great, and Joyce has been slow. They have the firepower, but three straight games to qualify is a tall ask.

Group Review

Group A
Papua New Guinea1654.2Expected to challenge, they pushed Canada close, were competitive against Afghanistan, but lost to Bermuda, ending any remaining hopes. PNG had a lot of okay players with the bat and ball but no stand-outs; but they should be pleased with 4th in the group.
Nepal1599.7Well suppported throughout; just for a moment it looked like they'd do the unthinkable and roll over Canada in the final game. They didn't, because their batting just isn't strong enough. The lowest scoring team in the tournament, but also the leading wicket-taker in Gauchan.
Hong Kong1495.0Sixth, but oddly disappointing. The games they won were good, but they were mown down by the top teams. Will be very pleased with the batting of Atkinson and Irfan Ahmed; less pleased with the lack of wickets with the ball.
Bermuda1552.8Stovell was immense with bat and ball, and Tucker's six hitting (particularly against PNG) was brilliant. Were competitive in most games, but they lack depth, and youth.
Denmark1536.9A mostly terrible tournament for the Danes. Never looked like scoring enough runs, and after beating Bermuda in the first game were rarely competitive.
Group B
Kenya1750.9So close for Kenya. After losing badly to Ireland looked unlikely to beat Uganda and Italy, but found their feet and missed out by effectively a single run. Will be particularly pleased to see Obanda and Allan score runs as they continue to rebuild.
Italy1638.3In a tight group, weren't too far from qualifying, nor too far from second last. Got plenty from Berg and can build around him and Sandri, if he stays around, and if they can find some locals.
United States1716.7Lost their first three games having been positioned to win all of them. A lack of previous competition at this level obviously hurt them, and there are a few positive signs for the USA for future tournaments. The win over Scotland was the only major upset of the tournament.
Uganda1683.5Batted last in every game, and never bowled the opposition out. Played well until their final two games without winning as many as they could have, but needed more runs from their top-3. Only one player scored 100 runs over the week.
Oman1611.2The only team not to register a win. Were the worst batting lineup, and a poor bowling one. Zeeshan Siddiqui's 12 wickets were the only real statistical highlight, and even he was expensive.

Cricket - Associate 22nd March, 2012 01:29:52   [#] 


World T20 Qualifiers - Playoffs Preview
There's a typo-- the title of the Second Elimination Final says Netherlands instead of Ireland.
Devanshu  22nd March, 2012 03:58:33  

World T20 Qualifiers - Playoffs Preview
Cheers Devanshu. Fixed, amongst other late-night typos.
Russ  22nd March, 2012 16:15:51