The mother of all cricketing battles- the revered World Cup- is slated to take place during early 2019. While all top echelons of world cricket have comfortably made it for the forthcoming twelfth edition of the ICC World Cup, the battle begins on March 4 between Cricket’s Associate nations. There are huge hopes and at the same time, some nerves as the tournament is set to undergo in the next few hours. So, even as there are ten teams fighting for securing the final two spots in cricket’s most coveted stage, the challenge is enormous and the stakes involved- humongous.
While for most teams battling for a spot among the tiny associate playing nations, qualifying for the world cup, will in itself signal overcoming an onerous challenge, there will be talents that will endeavour to make the most from what is at stake in their bid to take their respective teams forward.
We take a look at 9 players that hold the talent and gravitas to change a contest at the back of their individual talent:
1. Boyd Rankin, 33, Ireland
Even at 33, Boyd Rankin hasn’t lost the exuberance and the will power to compete at the highest stage akin to an 18-year-old. Should Ireland compete in the 2019 World Cup, it won’t be the first time that Rankin- a gritty right arm medium pacer- will be competing in the tournament for the first time ever. He was part of the set-up that made its way through to the Super-8 stages during the 2009 tournament held in the West Indies.
At 2.04 m, Rankin can generate uncanny bounce and along with it, foxing questions for the batsman in business and that too on batsmen-friendly wickets. In Ireland’s recent devouring of Scotland in a practice game, it was Rankin who sliced the top and middle order with much aplomb. He holds the key for a relatively batting-dominant unit for qualifying in Ireland’s road to the World Cup.
2. Rashid Khan: 19, Afghanistan
Shane Warne was yesterday; Rashid Khan is today. The adage is as simple as that. Truth be told, how impactful are world’s leading batsman- including some of whom feature in elite teams like India such as Kohli, Rohit, Rahane and Dhawan rests solely on how they come together to fend off quite inarguably, the best leggie in business today. But in order to have that kind of world-class competition, Khan’s Afghanistan will have to first qualify for the World Cup.
That said, given their current form is dangerous, having just reduced a Chris Gayle-powered Windies to a unit that was felled like ninepins, it might just be Afghanistan’s tournament; and another opportunity for its favourite son to outfox batsmen with his literally unplayable googlies.
3. Mahuru Dai, 33, Papua New Guinea
At 33, Mahuru Dai, a fierce striker of the ball from arguably the weakest associate nation has the confidence to fire at the big stage, even as he desperately searches for his first ever ODI hundred. Having played most of his games against Ireland and Hong Kong, two sides that rank higher than Dai’s Papau New Guinea, the batting all rounder who can also chip in with useful wickets shall look at bamboozling big-hitting players on Zimbabwe’s slow wickets where often, the ball takes its own sweet time to come on to the bat. With a safe pair of hands, Dai is a good fielder in the deep. It’s time he stood up for PNG in the World cup qualifiers.
4. Vani Mora, 34, Papua New Guinea
A muscular and extremely fit cricketer, Vani combines the usefulness of experience and the promise to perform at the big stage. So even as most of his ODI games and List A- features have either come against Hong Kong or Netherlands, there’s always a fitting stage such as the World Cup 2019 qualifiers to make the bat do the talking. Having struck 3 useful fifties in his ODI career, the right handed middle order man, with a penchant to stitch useful partnerships would be hoping to muscle a few impressive blows and possibly chase the dream of scoring a hundred or even two.
5. Kyle Coetzer, 33, Scotland,
A calm, level-headed bloke who also happens to be captaining a side that given its sheer talent base has been a hefty underachiever in the game, Coetzer’s importance to Scotland could be likened to that of Ajinkya Rahane or Alistair Cook’s for India and England respectively. Not someone who wishes to throw away his wicket attempting slog shots and miscalculated heaves, Scotland’s top order bat has the handy experience and nuance to score useful runs from the very top order. His side will hope he does just that in the games that are to begin.
6. Peter Chase, 24, Ireland
A tall, agile athlete and someone who’s seen the kind of impact fast bowling tearaways like Rankin have fetched Ireland, Chase is renowned for his ability to push batsmen to their backfoot, troubling them with fierce accuracy and morbid bounce, the latter often resulting in handing him useful wickets, regardless of the opposition’s batting order. Although, an area of concern for Chase, who’s notorious for often bowling a bit too full is his economy rate that is touching a dangerous mark of 7. That might prove unsavoury for an Ireland who look set to qualify ahead purely on current, recent form.
7. Paras Khadka, 30, Nepal
Inarguably, the poster-boy for Nepal’s men’s cricket, Paras at 30 has both the experience and the caliber to shine at the highest level. Although, Nepal’s constant failures to qualify for cricket’s grandest stage have often dwarfed or cast a shadow on this impressive all round talent who not only compiles useful runs in the middle order but can make a difference with this medium pacers. Even though a lot about Nepal’s captain is to be fashioned in the highest levels of international cricket, back in Nepal, he’s believed to be an inspirational figure for the cricket romantics; someone who has pushed even the women’s captain, Rubina Chhetri to take up the sport.
8. Dawlat Zadran, 29, Afghanistan
It’s one thing to say that Afghanistan are the rising minnows of world cricket but completely an unfounded fact to restrict the reason of their recent success only to leg spinner Rashid Khan. For it is in the world class talents of right arm pacers like Zadran that the Central Asian cricket team has been able to achieve its useful breakthroughs. Just a few days back, Zadran’s epic hat-trick against the West Indies broke the Caribbean team’s back and it is a facet that the side would hope continues to tame Afghanistan’s opponents in the games to come.
9. Babar Hayat, 26, Hong Kong
A clean striker of the ball and someone who appears as a confident go-getter, if Hong Kong, not the most mind-boggling sides of world cricket are to make headlines in the world cup qualifiers, then Hayat’s bat, one from which 8 fifties, 60 boundaries and 20 sixes have already come in a relatively short span- will have to do the talking. Here’s hoping this happens from the ball go.
|Name||Playing style||50 over matches||Wickets||Runs||HS score||Best
|Boyd Rankin (Ireland)||Right arm fast||51||67||60||18||4/44||0||0|
|Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)||Leg break specialist||37||86||545||60*||7/18||0||3|
|Mahuru Dai (Papua New Guinea)||Right hand batsman||14||17||371||76||3/58||0||0|
|Vani Morea (Papua New Guinea)||Right hand batsman||10||NA||300||65*||NA||0||NA|
|Kyle Coetzer (Scotland)||Right hand batsman||43||1||1723||156||NA||4||NA|
|Peter Chase (Ireland)||Right arm fast medium||22||32||31||14||3/33||0||0|
|Paras Khadka (Nepal)||Right handed batsman/ Right arm medium fast||28 List-A games||17||951||112*||3/14||2||0|
|Dawlat Zadran (Afghanistan)||Right arm fast medium||65||90||435||47*||4/22||0||0|
|Babar Hayat (Hong Kong)||Right hand batsman||16||NA||670||89||NA||0||NA|