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4 predictions for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

It’s an exciting period for the associate nations, but a potentially difficult time for the full member nations, as the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers begin on Sunday.

Ahead of this tournament, I must say I am still disappointed at the ICC’s decision to reduce the World Cup to 10 teams. Yes, there are some very one-sided games in World Cups, but to expand the game and to give the less experienced cricket nations a chance, they should have far more exposure against the bigger sides in the four-year window between World Cups. If that means it is at the expense of another Australia-India ODI series, for example, then so be it.

Anyway, that is perhaps an argument for another article. This article will look into a few predictions for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers, with an opportunity for two teams to qualify for the showpiece event in England in 2019. In this tournament, there will be two groups of five, with the top three teams in each group qualifying for Super Sixes. Then, the top two teams will contest the final, and qualify for the World Cup.

Leading wicket taker – Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Rashid Khan has been incredible all over the world in T20 tournaments. Here in Australia, fans got a taste of the Afghanistan sensation, finishing equal leading wicket taker in the Big Bash tournament.
Sure, 50 over cricket is different to T20 cricket, but against opposition not equipped to handle spin effectively, Rashid Khan could wreak havoc. Equal top of the ODI bowler rankings, Rashid Khan has taken 86 wickets in 37 ODIs, at an average of 13, including 7/18 v West Indies last year.
He is certainly one of the most well-known players in this tournament, and will play a key role in Afghanistan’s quest to reach the World Cup.
Rashid Khan will be tough to handle…

Leading run scorer – Brendan Taylor (Zimbabwe)

Brendan Taylor hasn’t had the best of times since returning to the Zimbabwe line up, but he remains a class player. 
In the last few games, there have been signs he is getting back to the Brendan Taylor we know. An excellent 125 v Afghanistan in Zimbabwe’s only win in the UAE would have given him and Zimbabwe a lot of encouragement, and he hit a solid 52 in Zimbabwe’s only warm up game against Papua New Guinea. One of the finest players Zimbabwe have ever produced, in a tournament where the bowling won’t be too flash by international standards, he needs to step up in his country’s desperate time of need.
Other candidates for top run scorer include Chris Gayle and Shai Hope (West Indies), William Porterfield and Kevin O’Brien (Ireland), Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands), Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe) and Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan). 
Can Brendan Taylor show the form he displayed at the 2015 World Cup?

Surprise team…

Ireland.
With the great cricket Ireland have played over the years, it somewhat a surprise to consider them a possible surprise team. However, due to limited opportunities, they aren’t as strong as they used to be, and as a result, enter this tournament with at least three teams (West Indies, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe) more fancied to qualify for the tournament.
Players such as Paul Stirling, Kevin O’Brien and George Dockrell will have an impact, and it is safe to say they will at least reach the Super Sixes. Recently, they won an ODI Tri-Series featuring Scotland and UAE, and also beat Afghanistan 2-1. With Paul Stirling’s recent good form, as well as the experience in their team, expect Ireland to go close…
Paul Stirling… key for Ireland

Two teams to qualify

West Indies and Afganistan.
It would be special to see Zimbabwe, Ireland and the likes of PNG, Nepal, Hong Kong and UAE do well, but West Indies and Afghanistan are best equipped to qualify in my opinion.
How the mighty have fallen… Once cricketing powerhouses, West Indies will scrap just to qualify for the World Cup, a tournament they won in their glory days in 1975 and 1979. West Indies have been in the country preparing for about two weeks, and while their batting in the warm up matches has been atrocious, they have the players to step up against mostly inexperienced opposition. Their recent ODI form isn’t too great, but they have a side capable of beating anyone on their day – Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels in their side certainly helps. Despite their fall from grace, they can’t look at participation in this tournament as an embarrassment, but rather, they need to show up, show respect to every opponent, and play their best cricket. If they do this, they will certainly go through.
For Afghanistan, they keep progressing nicely in international cricket, and will be buyoed by spin twins Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran. In addition, they have batsman that can pack a punch, including Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Shahzad. Despite a recent 2-1 series loss to Ireland, they smashed Zimbabwe 4-1 (albeit in different conditions), and will be a handful for all teams they play in the tournament.
Jason Holder – “time for us to win a World Cup”. You must qualify first…
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Final say

It is hugely disappointing that this tournament will not be streamed by the ICC, but it is our job as cricket fans to show interest, and talk about the tournament on social media to give these teams the exposure they are craving. 
Hopefully the weather can hold, because this tournament is great for exposing these teams to high pressure situations. Here’s to a good tournament.
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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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