• Race for World Twenty20 spots begins

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  • The captains of the 16 teams of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012 pose with the trophy in Dubai.(Photo: ICC)The captains of the 16 teams of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012 pose with the trophy in Dubai.(Photo: ICC)
Mar 12, 2012-

Tuesday marks the first day of what is anticipated to be a grueling 12-day ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier tournament in the UAE where 16 Associate and Affiliate teams including Kenya and Ugandan teams, who will be vying for two open spots at the main event in Sri Lanka this September.

Rest assured that whoever does make it through will have definitely earned it. Kenya is the most vulnerable of the six ODI nations in this tournament of not reaching the knockout stage as they continue to rebuild following a sorry World Cup campaign last year.

The 16 teams are split into two groups of eight and will play seven round-robin group matches in eight days to start off the event. The top three teams in each group will qualify for the knockout phase.

The group winners face off against each other in the first qualifying final with the winner going to Sri Lanka and the loser getting a second crack at clinching a berth once the rest of the knockout phase unfolds.

The second and third place teams in each group face the possibility of playing four matches in three days during the knockout phase, meaning they may wind up playing 11 matches over 12 days in 30 degree Celsius conditions during the tournament, in order to claim one of the two available places alongside the ten Full Members at the 2012 ICC World Twenty20.

The team that successfully runs the gauntlet in the UAE will have the privilege of facing off against Australia and the West Indies in Sri Lanka. The runner-up at the qualifier gets to take on India, as well as reigning World Twenty20 champion England.

The 72-game event will spread across grounds in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Afghanistan enters the event as the defending champion from the qualifier in 2010 and it would take a solid effort from the other seven teams in Group A to keep them out of the top spot in round-robin play.

Netherlands and Ireland should be confident of finishing in the top three as well. Namibia has the best chance of any of the non-ODI nations to finish in the top three in their group while the third spot in Group A could wind up being a dogfight between Canada, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea.

Hong Kong is the youngest squad in the tournament with an average age of 22.61, which isn't such a bad thing considering the three youngest squads at the same event in 2010 - Afghanistan, Netherlands and Ireland - all advanced to the Super Fours.

Nepal, Denmark and Bermuda are the three teams most likely to be fighting to stay out of the cellar in Group A.

As for Group B, Oman and Uganda might spring an upset or two but their overall chances of progressing into the knockout stage are slim. Scotland should finish in the top three in Group B, but their confidence may have been dented by back-to-back losses last week to the UAE in the World Cricket League Championship.

That might leave the door ajar for Italy or USA to sneak their way into the top three in Group B.


Compiled from cricinfo



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