ICC World Cricket League: What next for Nepal, and other teams?
Kathmandu- Nepal’s cricket team beat the Netherlands by 19 runs in the final match of the fourth round of the ICC World Cricket League Championship. With the win, Nepal picked up crucial two points against the Dutch side that had remained unbeaten in seven matches.
A look at the table shows that the contest is far from over, and that except for Namibia and Kenya, all teams have shown that they can beat any other team on their day.
Here’s the table:
ICC World Cricket League Championship (1)
While the Netherlands are yet to play Kenya, Namibia, and Hong Kong, Nepal are yet to play Kenya, Hong Kong and the UAE. Looking at the table, it looks certain that come December 2017, we can expect a photo finish. Although the ICC has said ‘top’ teams from the league will get an opportunity to play in the World Cup qualifers, it has not said how many teams will qualify for the qualifiers, top four sides are expected to be given the opportunity, with the rest relegated to the second division.
Here’s a look at each team’s standing in the league so far:
Nepal started their WCL campaign with disappointing results in Scotland and against PNG. Except for the second match against Scotland (which Nepal lost by 9 wickets), all encounters had gone down to the wire with the opposing team coming out on top. After a hard-fought 2-0 win against Namibia, and a 1-1 result in the Netherlands, Nepal end the season on a high with the hope that they get to play at least one of the remaining three matches at home. Sources say the ICC is interested in hosting the series against Kenya in Nepal.
The Netherlands remained unbeaten in the tournament until the second match against Nepal. The Dutch side would still remember that their series against Scotland was washed out. With second place Hong Kong gearing up for their series against Kenya (scheduled for November), the Dutch side would hope that Kenya deny Hong Kong at least 2 points. The Netherlands now play Hong Kong in the first of the 2017 season. Nepal would be watching the game closely as they will be up against the Asian side in the second round of the year.
Hong Kong is one of the four squads in the tournament that have ODI status. They have so far lost only one match in the tournament, that too to hosts Namibia. The African squad’s leg spinner Nicolaas Scholtz took four wickets in the match to hand Hong Kong their lone loss so far. But the HK squad bounced back in the second match, beating the Africans by 8 wickets. All wins the side has posted so far have been pretty convincing, even against the Scots (they beat them by 109 runs at home. They host PNG in November to wrap up the 2016 season.
Scotland is another team that has ODI status. The side is currently hosting the UAE at home. The hosts registered a thumping win against the UAE as they beat the tourists by 98 runs. The Scots have only lost one game in the championship so far (to Hong Kong). They are yet to play PNG, Kenya and Namibia.
The PNG squad are all set to host Namibia in October at home and then to Hong Kong in November for a three-match ODI series, which is not being organised as part of WCLC. The squad have lost only to the Netherlands in the WCLC so far.
Kenya play Hong Kong in November. The African side, which took the cricketing world by storm by defeating Sri Lanka at the 2003 World Cup, has had a mixed record in the tournament so far. They have shown vulnerability against a good pace attack. In the losses against the UAE and PNG, it was the pacers, who caused most of the damage to the Kenyan side. Kenya are likely to come to Kathmandu around April 2017 to play their two-match series against Nepal.
The African side has so far managed to eke out a single victory in the tournament so far, against Hong Kong in Namibia in the second match of the league. The team, which has a formidable batting lineup, has not been able to convert good starts to victories. They have ‘difficult’ teams such as the Netherlands and Scotland waiting for them in the next rounds.
The UAE have lost six of the seven matches they have played in the tournament so far. The win came against Kenya. The team is currently on tour of Scotland, and with a big defeat in the first match, they look to regroup in the second.
With the 2016 season coming to an end, the ICC is expected to announce fixtures for 2017 as early as December 2016.