Road to Cricket World Cup starts with Scotland Tri-Nation Series
International cricket’s new-look second tier gets underway in Aberdeen, with Oman and Papua New Guinea traveling to face Scotland in the new ICC Cricket World Cup League 2.
The 2019 Scotland Tri-Nation Series is the first of the new league, which also includes Nepal, United Arab Emirates, Namibia and the United States.
With every match carrying ODI status, each team will play the other twice with points carried into the overall points table – from which the top three advance automatically to the 2022 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
The new structure to world cricket is designed to give the second-tier teams more opportunity to play one-day international cricket and provide a fairer pathway to the Cricket World Cup.
Where the previous World Cricket League structure depended on a team playing well in a one-off week, performances now count across the three-year schedule: consistency will be rewarded, with adequate time to overcome bad form, bad luck or injuries.
It is also an opportunity for players from the second-tier nations to prove themselves on a bigger international stage than they have had the chance to before.
So, how is each squad shaping up for the Tri-Nation Series and who are the key players to watch?
The hosts boast a strong, experienced squad for their matches against Papua New Guinea and Oman at Mannofield.
Several have returned to Scotland on the back of appearing at the Global T20 Canada, while ten of the 11 who beat England last summer are in the 14-man squad.
They will have fond memories of playing Oman, after bowling them out for 24 in Al Amerat in February, on their way to an eventual 2-1 series win.
Since then, they have tested their mettle against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the lead-up to the World Cup too.
Star man: Calum MacLeod
The star of the show in Scotland’s win against England a year ago, he added the eighth ODI century of his career to that effort against Afghanistan in May.
He also hit 64 when Scotland last faced Oman, in the decider of their three-game series in Al Amerat earlier this year.
MacLeod averages 38.31 in ODI cricket, having also hit six half-centuries, alongside those eight hundreds. He is 46 runs short of 2,000 in ODI cricket.
Scotland boast a strong top order, with openers Matthew Cross and Kyle Coetzer setting the tone up the order before MacLeod, Richie Berrington and George Munsey let loose.
On the bowling front, Safyaan Sharif took six wickets in his two ODIs against Oman in February, and also took two against Sri Lanka in May.
Scotland squad for Scotland Tri-Nation Series
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
Oman have big ambitions for the future, after topping the World Cricket League Division Two table – albeit they then lost on their ODI debut to Namibia in the final.
Nevertheless, they have worked hard to get to this stage – tournaments like the Oman Quadrangular T20 tournament helping them gear up for moving up the cricketing ladder.
They now have their eyes set on a place in the World Cup qualifier and have picked a strong squad for the latest chapter on that road, this trip to Scotland.
Experience has been the key, with Zeeshan Maqsood leading the team and all-rounders Amir Kaleem and Ajay Lalcheta back involved.
Star man: Zeeshan Maqsood
The Omani captain was in good form as they earned promotion from WCL Division Three and backed that up in the Division Two tournament too.
Maqsood hit 163 runs and took six wickets in that tournament, including a century against Canada.
The left-hander will now lead his team in Aberdeen, looking to add some ODI victories to his already impressive captaincy CV.
Oman showed their resolve when they last faced Scotland – bouncing back from being bowled out for 24 by winning the next game.
That proved they had the quality to compete at a higher level, even if they did then lose the series, and they showed as much by qualifying for this division.
Their all-rounders are key – Maqsood first among them, but also Mohammad Nadeem, a key contributor in WCL Division Two. On the bowling front, only Ali Khan took more wickets in that tournament than Fayyaz Butt, meanwhile.
Oman squad for Scotland Tri-Nation Series
Zeeshan Mahmood (c), Khawar Ali, Fayyaz Butt, Sandeep Goud, Aqib Ilyas, Aamir Kaleem, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan, Suraj Kumar (wk), Ajay Lalcheta, Mohammad Nadeem, Khurram Nawaz, Jay Odedra, Jatinder Singh
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea held ODI status before, during which time they played Scotland four times and won once.
The Barramundis last faced Oman in the final group game of WCL Division Two, meanwhile – bowling them out for 76 as they snatched the final qualification spot.
Their squad blends the experience of players like Norman Vanua, Tony Ura and Charles Amini with new faces such as Gaudi Toka and Riley Hekure.
Star man: Tony Ura
Tony Ura hit the headlines when he smashed 151 against Ireland in the Cricket World Cup qualifier. He has scored more ODI runs and more T20i runs than any other PNG batsman.
He arrives in Scotland on the back of some good form too, hitting two half-centuries at the Pacific Games as the Barramundis saw off Samoa and Vanuatu.
While Charles Amini’s all-round form and Norman Vanua’s wickets are equally as key in this team, some strong performances up the order from Ura would really set the tone.
The same names keep cropping up when it comes to Papua New Guinea on the global stage – Ura, Amini and Vanua.
Ura and Amini were their two highest scorers at the recent Pacific Games, while Vanua took ten wickets.
They have some emerging strength in depth too, however – not least Nosaina Pokana, whose performances at WCL Division Two earned PNG’s place in this tournament.
Pokana’s 5-14 when they last met Oman were match-winning figures in a must-win game, and he followed it with 3-28 against USA in their most recent ODI.
Papua New Guinea squad for Scotland Tri-Nation Series
Assad Vala (c), Charles Amini, 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
ICC Cricket World Cup League 2: Scotland Tri-Nation Series 2019
14 August 2019: Oman vs Papua New Guinea (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)
15 August 2019: Scotland vs Oman (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)
17 August 2019: Scotland vs Papua New Guinea (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)
18 August 2019: Scotland vs Oman (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)
20 August 2019: Scotland vs Papua New Guinea (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)
21 August 2019: Oman vs Papua New Guinea (Mannofield Park, Aberdeen)