Ready Reckoner: Oman-Scotland-PNG Tri-series, CWC League 2 – Round 7

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Ready Reckoner: Oman-Scotland-PNG tri-series, CWC League 2 - Round 7. Hosts Oman have lost just three of their 14 matches thus far in the competition.

Ready Reckoner: Oman-Scotland-PNG Tri-series, CWC League 2 – Round 7Hosts Oman have lost just three of their 14 matches thus far in the competition.

Cricket World Cup League 2 finally resumed at Muscat earlier this month after a hiatus of more than a year and a half with hosts Oman consolidating their position at the top of the table, taking three wins from four against Nepal and the United States. They had a little less than a week's respite ahead of their next home series against Scotland and Papua New Guinea which starts tomorrow. With only two stray home matches held over from their abbreviated series against Namibia the UAE remaining, this week's matches will be the frontrunner's last full series on home turf and the hosts will be looking to put some distance between themselves and the pack before embarking on a long string of away fixtures. Oman's two matches against Scotland may prove the most significant for the final table, the Scots being Oman's nearest rivals in terms of ODI ranking and generally seen as the team most likely to challenge them for the top spot. For Papua New Guinea, languishing winless at the bottom of the table, getting points on the board this series will be crucial to keep their fading hopes of a top-three finish alive.

The Format

Successor to the now-defunct World Cricket League Championship, CWC League 2 is the highest level of Associate 50-over competition, sitting one tier below the CWC Super League. The league features seven of the eight ODI-status Associates competing across 21 six-match trilateral series, with each team playing three series at home and six abroad, for a total of 36 ODIs – facing each of their six opponents twice at home, twice away, and twice on neutral ground.

What's at stake

A podium finish in League 2 earns the top three teams' direct progression to the 2023 World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, as well as securing ODI status and a berth in the next edition of League 2 for the coming cycle. The fourth and fifth-placed teams will likewise be assured of continued ODI status and participation in the next edition, but together with the sixth and seventh-placed sides and the winners of the two parallel third-tier CWC Challenge Leagues will have to battle it out at the CWC Qualifier play-off for the remaining two slots at the Global WC Qualifier. The bottom two teams will also be at risk of relegation to the Challenge Leagues should they be outperformed by the two Challenge League champions at the Qualifier play-off.

Conversely, the League 2 champion will have a chance at promotion to the Super League for the coming cycle, should they place higher in the final standings at the WC Qualifier than the loser of the current edition of the Super League. With the prospect of 21 to 24 ODIs against Full Member opposition (depending on whether the Netherlands hold onto their spot in the Super League) on offer, mid-table teams such as Scotland will be looking enviously at Oman's current position at the top of the League 2 table.

The Teams

Hosts Oman have lost just three of their 14 matches thus far in the competition, and regardless of the outcome of this series will stay on top of the table both in terms of points and win percentage. Nonetheless, they've not looked unbeatable even at home. The absence of Khawar Ali and Aqib Ilyas at the top has unsettled the batting order somewhat, leaving them vulnerable if early wickets fall, and especially reliant on Jatinder Singh at the top. Singh was partnered by three different openers over the course of the previous series, and the trio managed just 36 runs between them. Ali and Ilyas are expected to return this series, though whether Oman will risk both with the T20 WC looming is an open question. New No.3 Ayaan Khan has struggled to replicate the fluency of his domestic form, often forcing skipper Zeeshan Maqsood to find late acceleration with the middle and lower order. Nonetheless, with the new ball pairing of Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah looking in good rhythm and spin options aplenty Oman will start as favorites, especially given the comparative wealth of match practice they've had.

Conversely, Scotland‘s last outing in the 50-over format was back in May when they split a two-match series with the Netherlands at Rotterdam – the only ODIs they've played since 2019. The Scots were originally tipped by many to win this competition comfortably, arguably losing out to the Dutch in the WCLC due in large part to bad luck with the weather. Oman were still languishing in WCL Division 5 when Scotland started that campaign in 2015, and Kyle Coetzer's team will be looking to reassert their dominance over the newcomers to the Associate top-flight. With half an eye on the T20 WC, Scotland's only other cricket this year has been a three-match home T20I series against Zimbabwe, and across both series the inconsistent form of the top order, traditionally a Scottish strength, has been of concern. Skipper-opener Coetzer has had a particularly lean 2021, though with the exception of Richie Berrington none of the top six have been scoring consistently at the international level. However, it is a top order of proven quality, capable of taking down full member bowling attacks when in form. The seam section is also a cut above at the Associate level, bolstered by the return of Chris Sole, who last featured for Scotland in their famous win over England at the Grange in 2018. Scotland will be relying principally on the experience of Ali Evans and Safyaan Sharif. However, together with the left-arm spin combination of Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir. Scotland's record at this level alone ought to lend them a degree of confidence, but of the three sides, they will be under the most pressure to find points, as a poor series might put the League 2 title beyond their grasp.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea have little to lose, still looking for their first win in the competition and with no particular weight of expectation bearing upon them. The Barramundis have been in Oman for some time now looking to make up for their long lay-off from international cricket, playing two ODIs apiece against the USA and Nepal, but the results underscored their underdog status in the series. PNG managed to cross 150 only once in those four matches, and skipper Assad Vala was the only bat to pass 50. A narrow win over Oman A will have done something to boost their confidence, however, with half-centuries for Vala and Lega Siaka, the only other PNG bat in some sort of form, while all-rounder Chad Soper put in another good showing with the ball taking 4-30. Soper's right-arm medium pace was also the Barramundi's most reliable source of wickets in their warm-up ODIs, with Damien Ravu the only other bowler to manage five or more wickets across the two series, albeit at significant cost. PNG will be hoping left-arm quick Nosiana Pokana rediscovers the form that has brought him 17 wicketsin the league thus far. Vala himself has been the main slow bowling threat in the longer white-ball format, with 50-overs not historically the Papuans' strongest suit. Yet despite their slow start in the competition, PNG's position is far from irrecoverable. They are not an appreciably weaker side than the one the led the WCL Championship for a substantial portion of that competition's last edition, and if they are able to break their losing habit to score an upset or two this series they may yet catch up to the pack.

What to expect

Temperatures in Oman are finally beginning to drop a little compared to the searing heat of the last couple of weeks, but daytime temperatures are still expected to be in the low 30s at least. While PNG have has some time to acclimatise the heat may be a trial for Scotland, who struggled somewhat in the neighbouring UAE during the 2019 T20 Qualifier, especially in their first two fixtures. While the previous series was entirely day/night matches, the first three fixtures of this series will be played without recourse to the new floodlights at al Amerat. The games played at the ground over the past month have again shown that seam bowlers tend to reap greater rewards here than elsewhere around the Gulf, and while the outfield has proved rather slower than expected the ball has generally come onto the bat hard off the pitch. Scores have generally been on the low side nonetheless, while plenty of bats have scored quickly few have been able to do so without risk, especially against quality spin as the wicket deteriorates. All told there's been something in it for everyone, with bad bowling punishable but good balls hard to score off.


September 25 PNG vs Scotland – Muscat, 9.30 pm start

September 26 Oman vs PNG – Muscat, 9.30 pm start

September 28 Oman vs Scotland – Muscat, 9.30 pm start

September 29 Scotland vs PNG – Muscat, 2.30 pm start (D/N)

October 1 Oman vs PNG – Muscat, 2.30 pm start (D/N)

October 2 Oman vs Scotland – Muscat, 2.30 pm start (D/N)


Oman:Zeeshan Maqsood (c), Aqib Ilyas (vc), Jatinder Singh, Khawar Ali, Mohammad Nadeem, Ayaan Khan, Suraj Kumar, Sandeep Goud, Nestor Dhamba, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan, Naseem Kushi, Sufyaan Mehmood, Pruthvikumar Macchi, Shoaib Khan.

Scotland:Kyle Coetzer (c), Richard Berrington (vc), Dylan Budge, Matthew Cross (wk), Alasdair Evans, Michael Leask, Gavin Main, Calum Macleod, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Hamza Tahir, Craig Wallace (wk), Mark Watt.

PNG: Assad Vala (c),, Charles Amini, Simon Atai, Sese Bau, Kiplin Doriga, Jack Gardner, Hiri Hiri, Jason Kila, Nosaina Pokana, Damien Ravu, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Gaudi Toka, Tony Ura, Kabua Morea, Norman Vanua.

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