Nepal eye Qualifier but UAE send a warningRohit Paudel’s Rhinos will take on the Emiratis—who beat PNG by six wickets on Wednesday—in the final and deciding match of the Cricket World Cup League 2 today.
Nepal will look to secure an automatic berth at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier when they take on the United Arab Emirates in the final and deciding match of the Cricket World Cup League 2 at home on Thursday. But the Gulf nation on Wednesday showed the Rhinos they are still able to put up a fight.
The Emiratis had had a patchy run in the League 2 losing four straight matches—two each against Nepal and Papua New Guinea—that not only cost them a spot in the top three position but also jeopardised their One Day International (ODI) status.
But on Wednesday, they recovered to thump PNG by six wickets at the TU Cricket Ground, with UAE captain Muhammad Waseem smashing his maiden ODI century in his explosive 76-ball 119 that featured six boundaries and 12 sixes.
Waseem also created the record for most sixes in an innings in the League 2 cycle. It was also the most sixes by a UAE batter in an ODI match.
Waseem reached his century in 60 balls that helped the UAE chase down a 235-run target in 38.4 overs.
It was UAE’s only second win in their last 11 matches.
Waseem’s men will now seek to continue the momentum against an in-form Nepal even though a victory over the Rhinos will not be enough for them to leapfrog the United States in the fifth position.
Nepal are having a fairytale march to their League 2 campaign winning 10 of their last 11 matches and moving up to the fourth position in the table with 38 points, just one point adrift of Namibia—who currently occupy the third spot—with a match in hand.
Just a month ago, Nepal were languishing in the sixth position in the seven-team League 2 standings with 18 points from 24 games and their hopes of progressing on the path to the Cricket World Cup 2023 hanged by a thread.
Now they are just one win away from claiming the last automatic spot at the Qualifier set to be held in Zimbabwe in June and July this year.
Rohit Paudel’s boys have found their mojo back. The appointment of Monty Desai as head coach in early February transformed the Nepali cricket team, particularly in the batting department, which had been the biggest headache for the national side until a month ago.
“The dressing room is calm and sir [coach] has given us freedom and motivated us to express ourselves with batting,” Paudel said after Nepal beat UAE to retain their ODI status on Monday.
Under Desai’s guidance, Nepal swept the ODI home series of League 2 for the first time last month and are unbeaten at home. They also posted three of their top four ODI totals. Nepal last week amassed their highest-ever ODI total of 297 on their way to beating PNG by 56 runs. On Sunday, they not only secured a record 177-run win against the UAE but also restricted them to their lowest ODI total.
Nepal’s only defeat of the last 11 matches came against the UAE at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on March 2.
League 2 champions Scotland and second-placed Oman have already joined South Africa, Sri Lanka, Ireland, hosts Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in the World Cup qualification.
If Nepal lose against the UAE or if the match is tied, Namibia will progress instead.
But all will not be lost.
The Rhinos will have to take the extra road of qualifier playoff—a repechage event to the Global Qualifier—set to take place in March and April in Namibia this year.
The bottom four teams of the League 2—PNG, UAE, US and either Nepal or Namibia—will join Cricket World Cup Challenge League winners Canada and Jersey in the playoff, with the top two teams taking the last two spots of the Zimbabwe qualifiers.
PNG wrapped up their League 2 campaign with 11 points.
If UAE finish below the two teams out of PNG, Canada or Jersey in the playoff, they will be relegated to the Challenge League.