A stellar home run from a Nepal side with a new lease on life has caused a shift in the race for automatic spots at the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Four wins from four matches at the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu has boosted Nepal’s chances of a top-three spot, heating up the race with Namibia and UAE.
Skipper Rohit Paudel was pivotal in the final win of the tri-series, combining in a last-ditch partnership with No.10 Karan KC, winning by two wickets in a chase of 214.
As the captain (95* off 101 balls) pushed on after losing wickets around him, Karan (31* off 37 balls) once showed once again why he is regarded as a man for a rescue job, hitting two fours and a six in another match-winning effort.
Nepal’s home dominance brings them closer to Namibia and UAE, the other teams in the running for the third automatic spot for the Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Just 14 matches remain in a thrilling three week stretch, as we break down the chances of the trio in the hunt.
How the first two spots were sewed up, and how the chasing pack stand
The first two automatic spots for the Qualifier have been secured, with Scotland (50 points in 36 matches) already crowned League 2 champions, and Oman’s tally of 44 (36 matches) enough to guarantee a top three spot. At the other end, PNG (five points) and USA are already out of the top-three race, with the latter’s 35 points from 36 matches already usurped by Namibia’s 37 in 34 matches.
Gerhard Erasmus’ side still hold the aces as we come to the competition climax, with the Eagles rated as a 54.2% chance of finishing in the third automatic spot. Despite a shaky tri-series in Nepal, Namibia have fate more or less in their own hands: on top of the upper hand in regards to tie-breakers should points be level, wins in their final two matches (both against UAE) would make catching them an improbable task.
UAE (27 points in 26 games), rated a 34.3% chance, play those two matches against Namibia on home soil, before hosting Nepal and PNG in the penultimate tri-series. The same three teams meet in the last tri-series in Nepal from March 9.
The Emiratis are winless in their last four matches (three defeats and one no-result), though have not featured in the competition since last August. Focusing on T20I cricket in the last six months, UAE were unable to advance from the first round of the T20 World Cup in Australia, also pipped by Afghanistan 2-1 in a recent home series.
Nepal are given an 11.5% chance of upsetting the other two sides, though the side under new coach Monty Desai look a tougher proposition than earlier in the cycle, especially with bat in hand.
The side chased down 286 (their record winning ODI reply), 275 twice and 213 in their home stand, with a number of players in the runs.
Nepal need at least six wins from their final eight matches, though should enjoy conditions in UAE, and finish with four matches on home turf.
How can the bottom four teams from League 2 reach the Cricket World Cup Qualifier?
Should teams not finish a League 2 top-three spot, qualification for the 2023 Cricket World Cup is still possible, though the pathway takes an unwanted detour: A six-team Qualifier Play-off, effectively a repechage for the bottom four teams and the winners of the two Challenge League groups (Jersey and Canada).
The top-five teams from the competition will be joined by Netherlands in the next edition of the recalibrated eight-team League 2, with the final two spots determined based on finishing positions in the Qualifier Play-off event.
Teams finishing in sixth and seventh positions of the current League 2 risk losing ODI status and a spot in the next League 2 cycle, with Jersey and Canada challenging them for these remaining two spots at the event in Namibia.
– UAE v Namibia: 23 February
– UAE v Namibia: 25 February
– Papua New Guinea v Nepal: 27 February
– UAE v Papua New Guinea: 28 February
– UAE v Nepal: 2 March
– Nepal v Papua New Guinea: 3 March
– UAE v Papua New Guinea: 5 March
– UAE v Nepal: 6 March
– Nepal v Papua New Guinea: 9 March
– UAE v Papua New Guinea: 10 March
– Nepal v UAE: 12 March
– Nepal v Papua New Guinea: 13 March
– Papua New Guinea v UAE: 15 March
– Nepal v UAE: 16 March
Every ball of the Cricket World Cup League 2 ODIs will be live and FREE on ICC.tv.
Fans in the ALL regions (other than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan) can watch League 2 matches LIVE on ICC.tv on:
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Highlights of League 2 ODIs are also available on-demand for FREE on ICC.tv.