PEPSI ICC WCL 6 PREVIEW: CLASH OF THE SEASONED CAMPAIGNERS

Malaysia host Fiji, Guernsey, Jersey, Kuwait, Nigeria in the latest Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 6 event, a competition that forms part of the qualification process for World Cup 2015. Even without the raised stakes, it promises to be a hard-fought contest.

It is the dream of everyone who picks up a bat and ball to play at the highest possible level. An accident of birth can introduce you to cricket, an accident of fate can mean that you were not born in a Test-playing country and thus almost guaranteed to not play Tests. But the World Cup is a tangible dream for thousands thanks to the ICC’s pathway and it is a dream that came close to the most amazing fulfillment when Afghanistan went all the way from WCL Division 5 to the Qualifier for World Cup 2011 last time around. “Afghanistan is an example that has inspired us, yes,” says Director General of Kuwait Cricket Asad Baig, “we say to our players, if some Afghans with no facilities and little help from their administrators can get all the way to the top what can Kuwait’s cricketers with more facilities and as much support as we can give them, achieve?” The answer, for a country that has surged up the rankings, winning Division 8 and Division 7 over the past nine months, is that it has a good chance. They are packed with some devastating all-rounders in Hisham Mirza and Saad Khalid and have in Mohammad Murad a very useful left-arm pace bowler.

 Kuwait with the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 Trophy

Kuwait with the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 8 Trophy

Yet for all their talent, Kuwait can blow hot and cold from day to day. Guernsey and Jersey, fresh from a four-month season of competitive cricket will be tough opposition. With plenty of match-practice under their belt, they will arrive in Malaysia keen to start their own climb up the rankings. Nigeria gained promotion from Division 7 along with Kuwait and have a competitive team, particularly strong in the top-order. Fiji are one of those ‘on their day’ teams, capable of beating anybody with some extraordinary bursts of skill and athleticism.

Malaysia regrouping

Malaysia regrouping

Home side Malaysia have prepared for this tournament like no other. For the past three months they have been strategising and practicing, looking for the optimal balance in their line-up. Stalwarts Suresh Navaratnam and Rakesh Madhavan are in, captain Suhan Kumar is a candidate for highest run-scorer and the fact that they’ve picked five spinners in their 15-man squad gives some clue as to how the wickets will play.

Selangor Turf Club is the truest wicket of them all and is an idyllic venue, Bayuemas can really helps the seamers in the first half-hour and Kinrara has close to the plushest outfield anywhere in the world. With six games in eight days in the tropics, the event’s going to be won by the fittest not just the most skilful. The top two move up to Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 and one step closer to that World Cup dream.

Courtesy: Asian Cricket Council

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