The fourth ACC T20 Cricket Tournament, the second to be played in Nepal is set to start this Tuesday.
Two teams that will go through to the ICC WorldTwenty20 Qualifier in November shall be decided through a week and a half of the Cricketing fiesta.
Three-times winners Afghanistan have pre-qualified as an ODI nation and UAE are also through as hosts of the November qualifier. This leaves two places up for grabs. Two teams from the qualifiers will enter the T20 World Cup to be held in Bangladesh in March 2014.
With Afghanistan and UAE already in the qualifiers, Nepal and Hong Kong seem the most likely to make the top two.
Even though Afghanistan and UAE are here in Nepal with not their absolute best XI however, with the high level of cricket the players from the two countries are exposed to, they are still one of the prime contenders. And the only other team except Nepal and Hong Kong that can challenge these two squads is last year’s Semi Finalist Oman.
If everything goes as it should ACC T20 looks like a 4 team race: Nepal, Afghanistan, UAE and Hong Kong.
Already in the qualifiers, Afghanistan have nominated a strange side composed of some very experienced campaigners and some totally unseen faces.
Despite of losing some of their best players to what some news cite ‘injury’ and ‘squad rotations’ Afghanistan are still a team to be much feared of. Afghanistan players play tough cricketing tournaments with much better teams then ones on display in ACC T20. Even the most inexperienced players in the squad have gained ample experience with Pakistan Domestic League.
Afghanistan have only 6 of the top notch players in the 14 men squad leaving experienced batsmen like Nawroz Mangal, Shabbir Noori, and their opening specialist at T20 and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad Mohammadi. However they still have dependable shoulders of Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib. Karin Sadiq shall stay behind the wickets for Shahzad.
The fared fast bowling of Afghan side is weak this year. The fast bowling department will be lead by spearhead Shapoor Zadran and young Aftab Alam.
Batin Shah, Mohammad Nasim and Fazal Rahman are new faces in the torunament, all debutants to the international Cricket.
Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Gulbadin Naib, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam, Najibullah Zadran, Nasim Baras, Batin Shah, Mohammad Nasim, Fazal Rahman, Hazma Hotak, Najibullah Zadran
ACC T20 2011 : Winner
Players to Watch Out For:
In form Gulbadin Naib, who recently scored a century against Pakistan A side in a friendly One Day match. Naib rose to fame amongst Associate fans with his blistering 44 of 32 against England in the World Cup.
Mohammad Nabiwill have a important role to play as a captain and his valuable bowling and hard hitting batting.
Shahpoor Zadran is sure to ask some questions to the batsmen with his fast bowling. He troubled all the teams in the last years tournament.
2. HONG KONG:
Compared to last year’s squad Honk Kong has a weaker side, missing players like Munir Dar.
Placed in group A along with Nepal, Hong Kong always has consistent performance against all the elite teams of the Asian Region including Nepal, UAE, and Afghanistan and is taken as a strong contender for the tournament.
Last year’s finalist Hong Kong have a pretty balanced side lead by young James Atkinson. James Atkinson, Vice captain Waqas Barkat and hard hitting Irfan Ahmed intensify Hong Kong’s batting line up.
Aziaz Khan with Daljeet Singh shall lead the fast bowling department.
Hong Kong flew to Sri Lanka to play matches with the local teams for the preparation of the tournament, once Nepal’s usual schedule before any big tournament.
Hong Kong Squad:
James Atkinson (Captain), Waqas Barkat (Vice Captain), Tanwir Afzaal, Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Babar Hayat, Mudassar Hussain, Aizaz Khan, Nizakat Khan, Courtney Kruger, Anshuman Rath, Karan Shah, Daljeet Singh, Manjinder Singh
ACC T20 2011: Finalist
Players to Watch Out:
James Atkinson has a weird record on his name in ODI, he is the first player born in 1990s to play ODI as he debuted against Pakistan in 2008 Asia Cup. He is a exquisite batsmen and has been praised for his cool temperament.
Irfan Ahmed and Courtney Kruger along with vice Captain Waqus Barkat will have important roles to play in Hong Kong’s performance.
3. UAE(UNITED ARAB EMIRATES):
UAE squad is full of players having plenty of experiences in List A and First Class Cricket but the players in the squad haven’t been part of much T20 action. (This is also due to the fact that they did not qualify for last year’s World Cup Qualifiers played in their home soil).
UAE seems to be the weaker of the 4 looking at their T20 experience and the experienced List A and First Class Cricketers shall have a point to prove when they play in the shorter version of the game.
Ahmed Raza(Captain), Rohan Mustafa, Wasim Bari, Bakhtiyar Hamid, Amjad Ali, Arshad Ali,Sandip Patil, Faizan Asif,Sandeep Silva, Mohammad Azam, Swapnil Patil, Amjad Javed,Adil Reyel, Abdul Shakoor, Fayyaz Ahmed
ACC T20 2011: Group Stage
Players to Watch For:
Amjad Ali in last year’s tournament scored two half centuries one against Malayasia and other against Finalist Hong Kong .
Amjad Javed experienced List A player with average over 30 shall have important role to play in UAE’s ACC T20 Quest.
Shadeep Silva, slow left arm orthodox bowler is the lead wicket taker for UAE in T20.
Second time host and a team in high spirit, Team Nepal are prime favorites. With standards rising across the region, and recent results in both ICC(Divison 4 Champions) and ACC (ACC Elite Cup Champions)events cite Nepal as strong contenders for a qualifying spot if not the champions spot itself.
ACC T20 2011: Semi- Finalist