Ready Rechnerin: Scotland, PNG, Oman, Tri-Series, The CAC League 2 > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Ready Reckoner: Scotland, PNG, Oman Tri-Series, CWC League 2
Cricket World Cup League 2, the new premier Associates ODI competition, gets underway in Aberdeen today with hosts Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman contesting the first of the 21 trilateral ODI series that make up the 7-team league, which is set to run over the coming 2.5 years. Replacing the old World Cricket League Championship, the competition serves as the top rung of the new qualifying ladder for the 2023 World Cup, which the ICC announced in October of last year.
The League itself features seven of the top eight Associate sides; Scotland, the United Arab Emirates and Nepal who qualified through the most recent World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe last year, together with Namibia, Oman, Papua New Guinea and the United States, who earned their berths by finishing in the top four at the final World Cricket League Division 2, held in Windhoek in April this year. The Netherlands, as winners of the final World Cricket League Championship, will instead be contesting the new CWC Super League alongside the 12 Full Member Nations, which kicks off next year. CWC League 2 will see each of the seven sides play 36 ODIs - the competition and all participating teams having been accorded ODI status. The fixtures will be played across a total of 21 six-match trilateral series, every side will thus play three series at home and six abroad over the course of the league, giving a total of 12 home matches, 12 'away' matches and 12 played on neutral ground. This week's series at Mannofield Park in Aberdeen is the first such Tri-Series, and will see Scotland, Oman and Papua New Guinea each play one another twice over the course of ten days, with results counting toward their position on the League 2 table.
What's at Stake?
The ultimate goal is qualification for the 2023 World Cup, or more immediately the next Global World Cup Qualifier - to be held at an as-yet-undetermined venue in 2022. At the conclusion of the competition, the top three sides on the League 2 table will progress directly to the Qualifier, where they will be joined by the bottom five finishers in the CWC Super League to contend for the (currently) two available qualifier berths at the 2023 World Cup.
The bottom four sides will join the winners of the new CWC Challenge Leagues at the CWC Qualifier Playoff - a six-team repechage tournament that effectively replaces the old WCL Division 2 - from which the top two sides will also progress to the Global Qualifier, with the third and fourth finishers presumably retaining or gaining a place in the next edition of League 2 and the bottom ranked sides relegated to the Challenge Leagues for the next cycle.
A top three finish, as things stand, thus guarantees retention of ODI status for the coming cycle as well as offering a better chance at World Cup Qualification, albeit still a remote one if the World Cup retains a ten-team format. More significantly however, the League 2 Champions also gain a chance at promotion to the CWC Super League for the next cycle. Should the winner of League 2 finish higher than the loser of the Super League in the final standings at the World Cup Qualifier, the former is currently slated to replace the latter in the next edition of the Super League, regardless of the two sides respective membership status. Under the current format, that would secure as many as 24 fixtures for the promoted side against Full Member opposition for the 2023-2027 cycle - arguably a greater prize than even World Cup Qualification.
Despite contrasting recent fortunes in fifty over cricket, each of the three teams that meet in Aberdeen this week have recorded wins over their rivals in recent encounters. Papua New Guinea head to Scotland for their first competitive 50-over cricket since a scratchy performance at Division 2 in April, where a late rally saw them record an extraordinary come-back win over Oman in their final round-robin match - Sese Bau and Kiplin Doriga staging a fight-back back from 32 for 5 to help the Papuans post 221-8 on a treacherous pitch at Trusco-United, before left-armer Nosaina Pokana took 5-14 as the Omanis were skittled for 76. They followed that up with a win over the United States in their final game to claim third place, perhaps heralding a turnaround after the calamitous run of form that had seen them slip from pole position in the last WCL Championship to the brink of relegation to the Challenge Leagues.
They can also boast a win in their most recent match against Scotland, the second of a shared two-match ODI series in Port Moresby during the final WCLC some 18 months ago. They will be without the veteran all-rounder Mahuru Dai, the architect of that win, for this series, with the additions of all-rounders Riley Hekure and Gaudi Toka for the tour continuing the gradual process of renewal in the PNG side. The integration of the new faces will likely be key to the Papuans' chances in the series, the Barramundis having a marked tendency to succeed or fail together, with a strong team ethic, especially in the field, often allowing them to perform above themselves.
Though their competitive schedule has been exclusively in the shorter format since April, a pair of 50-over warm-up matches against a strong New South Wales Invitational XI in Port Moresby prior to departure has served as preparation for a return to 50-over cricket. It will have done little to prepare them for the conditions at Aberdeen, however, the Barramundis having limited experience in northern climes and still less success, especially with the bat. Though in Tony Ura and the Mercurial Lega Siaka PNG have the firepower to inflict serious embarrassment on opposition bowlers, they will be looking to the seasoned Norman Vanua and young Pokana to extract what they can from the Mannofield wicket and will have to back them up well in the field if they are to take points home from Aberdeen.
Likewise Oman's chief strength is in their seam attack - with spearhead Bilal Khan backed up by the imposing Kaleemullah, former Pakistan youth international Fayyaz Butt and the canny Mohammad Nadeem - which is arguably the strongest seam attack in the league. Nadeem is perhaps the least celebrated of the quartet but he was the stand-out when Oman bested Scotland in Al Amerat in February, bouncing back from the humiliation of being bowled out for 24 in the series opener to roll the Scots for 155 and claim a 93-run win.
If the Omani seamers can turn conditions to their advantage then they have every chance of turning over the more-fancied Scotland in their own back yard, continuing an upward trend that began at WCL Division 5 in Jersey back in 2016 and has seen the Sultanate steadily climb through the ranks of Associate cricket. The solidity of the Omani batting line-up remains open to question, however, especially in the unfamiliar conditions of Northern Scotland.
Veteran skipper Zeeshan Maqsood remains their most naturally gifted bat, those his aggressive natural game arguably lends itself more to the shorter format. The "Red Brigade" will likely be looking to the likes of Aaqib Illyas and especially Jatinder Singh to lend some resilience to the line-up across fifty overs, though if the bowling really fires they may not need it.
Hosts Scotland start the series with the perhaps unwanted label of favourites, a situation that has not always seemed to suit them. Kyle Coetzer's side have of late played their best cricket as underdogs, most notably when they bested then World number one and now World Champions England at the Grange last Summer. Whilst they have racked up wins over no less than five full members in fifty over cricket over the past couple of years and were desperately unfortunate to miss out on qualifying for the World Cup, they have nonetheless shown themselves capable of stumbling against their Associate peers, including the two sides they face this week.
Nonetheless Aberdeen local Coetzer has every reason to feel confident when he leads his side out onto his personal home ground, not least due to his personal form with the bat, and that of the destructive George Munsey, most recently at the GT20 in Canada. Add to that (2018 Associate cricketer of the year) Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington and fellow Aberdonian Matthew Cross and Scotland can boast what is without question the strongest top five in Associates cricket, and indeed a batting card that would be the envy of a couple of Full Members.
In young Mark Watt the hosts also have a promising left arm spinner to deploy, and a trusted new-ball pair in Safyaan Sharif and Ali Evans. Also worth watching will be another Aberdeenshire graduate, the towering right-arm seamer Adrian Neil, who Oman will doubtless remember taking 4-7 against them in the aforementioned route at Al Amerat in February.
After an uncharacteristically hot Summer, the weather in Aberdeen has of late rather reverted to type, and the forecast for the coming week is more-or-less exactly what one might imagine when one hears the words "Northern Scotland" which is to say, blustery, chilly and blighted by frequent showers. The groundstaff at Mannofield are of course used to dealing with a bit of rain, but the ground nonetheless has a less batting-friendly reputation than other grounds in Scotland such as the Grange in Edinburgh. Scores above 250 have historically been the exception rather than the norm at Aberdeen and pace bowlers have generally done well, especially those that can extract movement off the deck. Batting is generally thought to get easier in the afternoon, especially in clear, calm and dry weather, but there's very little of that expected this week.
PNG: Assad Vala (c), Charles Amini (vc), Simon Atai, Sese Bau, Kiplin Doriga (wk), Riley Hekure, Hiri Hiri, Nosaina Pokana, Damien Ravu, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Gaudi Toka, Tony Ura, Norman Vanua
Oman: Zeeshan Maqsood (c), Jatinder Singh (vc), Khawar Ali, Fayyaz Butt, Sandeep Goud, Aqib Ilyas, Aamir Kaleem, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan, Suraj Kumar (wk), Ajay Lalcheta, Mohammad Nadeem, Khurram Nawaz, Jay Odedra
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross (wk), Alasdair Evans, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Adrian Neill, Safyaan Sharif, Tom Sole, Hamza Tahir, Craig Wallace (wk), Mark Watt
CWC League 2, Series 1
Wednesday 14 August - Oman v PNG, 10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Thursday 15 August - Scotland v Oman, 10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Saturday 17 August - Scotland v PNG,10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Sunday 18 August - Scotland v Oman, 10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Tuesday 20 August - Scotland v PNG, 10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Wednesday 21 August - Oman v PNG, 10am GMT, Mannofield Park, Aberdeen
Series 2 - September 2019 - United States, Papua New Guinea, Namibia
Series 3 - December 2019 - United Arab Emirates, Scotland, United States
Series 4 - January 2020 - Oman, Namibia, United Arab Emirates
Series 5 - February 2020 - Nepal, United States, Oman
Series 6 - March 2020 - United States, Scotland, United Arab Emirates
Series 7 - April 2020 - Namibia, Nepal, Scotland
Series 8 - June 2020 - Papua New Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Nepal
Series 9 - June 2020 - Scotland, Nepal, Namibia
Series 10 - September 2020 - Namibia, Papua New Guinea, United States
Series 11 - December 2020 - United Arab Emirates, Namibia, Oman
Series 12 - January 2021 - Oman, United States, Nepal
Series 13 - February 2021 - Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea
Series 14 - April 2021 - Papua New Guinea, Oman, Scotland
Series 15 - June 2021 - Scotland, United Arab Emirates, United States
Series 16 - August 2021 - United States, Nepal, Oman
Series 17 - August 2021 - Namibia, Oman, United Arab Emirates
Series 18 - September 2021 - Papua New Guinea, United States, Namibia
Series 19 - November 2021 - Nepal, Namibia, Scotland
Series 20 - January 2022 - Oman, Scotland, Papua New Guinea
Series 21 - January 2022 - United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea, Nepal
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