Record Book – Ireland at the Women’s World Cup

  Ireland missed out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the third time in a row, after failing to progress from the Super Six stage of the Qualifiers held in Sri Lanka earlier this year. However, the Irish eves have had their fair share of experience in the showpiece event of the women’s game. Here is a look back at how Ireland have fared in the tournament over the years.

1988

  The fourth edition of the Women’s World Cup, held in Australia as part of its Bicentenary celebrations, marked Ireland’s debut in a multi-team cricket tournament. One of the only five teams to feature in the double round-robin tournament, Ireland finished fourth with two wins in eight matches. Their first encounter with New Zealand at Perth was forgettable, as they went down by 154 runs.

  The very next day, Ireland, captained by Mary-Pat Moore, achieved their maiden ODI win, defeating the Netherlands by 86 runs at the Willeton Sports Club in Perth. After being put in to bat, Ireland rode on Stella Owens’ 66 to get to 196/5 in the allotted 60 overs. The Dutchwomen then crashed to 37/5 and could only manage 110/7, thanks to a disciplined Irish effort with the ball.

  A pair of one-sided defeats at Sydney, by ten wickets and seven wickets against heavyweights Australia and England respectively, put paid to any faint hopes Ireland might have had of an unlikely spot in the final. The action then moved to Melbourne’s Carey Grammar School Oval, where Ireland notched their second win, chasing down the Netherlands’ 143 with five wickets and 20 balls remaining.

1993

  A record eight teams contested the 1993 edition in England, with the 60-over format retained. Each team played every other once in the league stage, where Ireland, led by Moore again, finished a creditable fifth. Ireland bounced back from a seven-wicket loss to New Zealand in their first game with a 70-run win over Denmark at the Christ Church Ground in Oxford.

   Irish captain Miriam Grealey hits out during her side’s win over the Netherlands in the 2000 World Cup. She has scored 505 runs across four editions (source – espncricinfo.com) 

  A fifth-wicket stand worth 96 between the dependable Stella Owens (61) and Miriam Grealey (63*) helped Ireland recover from 84/4 towards a defendable 234/6. The Danes were restricted to 164/9 despite being placed at 105/2 at one point. Susan Bray was the pick of the bowlers with 3/22, while three run-outs pointed to a quality effort in the field.

  Three defeats then followed, but Ireland impressed in two, limiting the margin of defeat against Australia to 49 runs and taking six Indian wickets while defending 151. Ireland’s second victory came against the Netherlands at Marlow, where, chasing 135, they slumped to 104/8 before winning by two wickets. The Irish campaign ended with a narrow 19-run defeat to the West Indies.

1997

  The record for the most number of teams was broken again, with as many as 11 sides taking part in the 1997 edition in India. Ireland were clubbed in Group A, alongside defending champions England, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Denmark. The maximum number of overs per innings was now the standardised 50. Ireland were led by the seasoned Miriam Grealey this time.

  After their opening game against Australia was washed out, Ireland saw off Denmark by nine wickets in a rain-reduced, 23-over affair at Chennai. Pacer Barbara McDonald took 3/12 to restrict Denmark to 56/7. Ireland’s next two outings, against South Africa and England, ended in big losses, by nine wickets and 208 runs respectively.

  In what was a must-win, final group clash against Pakistan at the Nehru Stadium in Gurgaon, Ireland rose to the occasion with a resounding display. Grealey top-scored with a quickfire 62 in Ireland’s total of 242/7 before the off-spin duo of Catherine O’Neill (4/10) and Adele Spence (3/4) helped shoot Pakistan out for just 60 – extras being the highest contributor with 27.

  This win enabled Ireland to enter the quarterfinals, by virtue of finishing fourth in their group with 15 points. In the knockout, they met New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Faced with a challenging total of 244/3, Ireland limped to 105/9 to lose by 139 runs. Grealey ended as the highest run-getter for her team, with 137 runs from five innings at 34.25.

     The Ireland Women’s team celebrate a Sri Lankan wicket at the 2000 World Cup. They went on to narrowly lose the game by ten runs (source – espncricinfo.com)

2000

  The tournament was back to the eight-team league format in 2000, with New Zealand being the hosts. Grealey continued being the Irish skipper, and her team was rolled over for 99 en route to an eight-wicket defeat to the hosts at Lincoln in their first match. Next up was Australia, against whom it was even worse as Ireland lost by ten wickets after being bowled out for 90.

  In the third game against Sri Lanka, Ireland fell heartbreakingly short of victory. After skittling their opponents for 129, Ireland steadily seemed on track at 65/2 in the 32nd over. But the pressure of the mounting required run rate led to a regular fall of wickets and they folded for 119 in 49.5 overs. This was followed by a tame eight-wicket defeat to a England.

  Ireland produced an improved display against India, but was not enough to prevent a 30-run defeat. Their solitary triumph came against the Netherlands at Christchurch where a total of 232/6, enough for a 41-run win, was reached thanks to Caitriona Beggs (66*) and Anne Linehan (54). In their last game, Ireland went down to South Africa by nine wickets.

2005

  South Africa hosted the event for the first time, with the format of the competition unchanged. Clare Shillington was now in charge of Ireland, who qualified after winning the inaugural World Cup Qualifier held in the Netherlands in 2003 undefeated. But the tournament proper would prove to be a different kettle of fish, as for the first time, Ireland ended without a single win.

  In their first completed match, Ireland suffered a nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of India after being bowled out for 65. Two days later, another sizeable defeat followed, this time to England by 128 runs. It was hardly any better against New Zealand – bowled out for 91 before losing by nine wickets – or against the West Indies, to whom they lost by eight wickets.

  A tough campaign ended with a ten-wicket loss to Australia, with Ireland’s struggle to 66/8 in 50 overs highlighting the gulf between the two sides. Ireland have played 34 matches across five editions of the World Cup, winning seven and losing 26. Miriam Grealey is their highest run-scorer with a tally of 505, while Catherine O’Neill, with 17 victims, is the highest wicket-taker.

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In Focus – Six players to watch out for in the ICC WCL Division Three

  The 2017 ICC World Cricket League Division Three is set to commence in Uganda later today. The week-long 50-over tournament will feature six Associate nations, with the top two teams earning entry into the six-team 2018 Division Two tournament and getting a step closer to a shot at qualification for the 2019 World Cup. 

  The tournament will feature a round-robin stage followed by playoffs. The teams in action are hosts Uganda (5th in 2015 Division Two), Canada (6th in 2015 Division Two), Malaysia (3rd in 2014 Division Three), Singapore (4th in 2014 Division Three), United States of America (1st in 2016 Division Three) and Oman (2nd in 2016 Division Three).

  Eighteen matches will be played across three venues in Uganda. With just a few hours to go for the tournament to begin, fans of Associate cricket would undoubtedly be looking forward to what promises to be an unpredictable and keenly-contested week of one-day cricket. We look at six players – one from each of the participating nations – who will be worth keeping an eye on.

Deusdedit Muhumuza (Uganda)

  Hosts Uganda, under the aegis of their Kenyan coach Steve Tikolo, will enter the tournament riding on a rich vein of form, having remarkably subdued Kenya 4-0 in the five-match Easter Series in April. A notable performer for the Cricket Cranes, as the Ugandan side is known, in this series was 27-year-old pace-bowling all-rounder Deusdedit Muhumuza.

  Muhumuza repeatedly stifled the Kenyan batsmen with his medium pace, not to mention his valuable lower-order batting. Last September, he had fashioned his side’s two-wicket win over Kenya with a haul of 5/49. Reported for a suspect action in 2013-14, Muhumuza has since come back strong and could be a force to reckon with in familiar environs.

      Pace bowler Deusdedit Muhumuza will be looking to impress for hosts Uganda in the ICC World Cricket League Division Three (source – fairfax nz/robert charles)

Satsimranjit Dhindsa (Canada)

  India-born fast bowler Satsimranjit Dhindsa is an important cog in the Canadian bowling attack. The 26-year-old played a vital role in Canada’s Auty Cup victory last October, taking six wickets at 22.33, including 4/37 in the second game wherein Canada successfully defended 216 to win by 17 runs. Last week, Dhindsa showed his prowess on the Zimbabwean tour as well.

  He took 5/53 as Canada ran a strong Zimbabwe A outfit close, losing by only two wickets. Along with the equally promising Cecil Pervez, he forms an effective opening pair that can put batsmen to the test. Dhindsa’s abilities are not limited to the ball – he can wield the long handle as well, as he showed during a valuable knock of 32* in the opening game of the Auty Cup. 

Ahmed Faiz (Malaysia)

  Malaysian captain Ahmed Faiz is the fulcrum of his side’s middle order, and much will be expected from him in this crunch tournament. Malaysia’s opening encounter will be against Singapore, the team that bore the brunt of Faiz’s blade in the 2015-16 Stan Nagiah Cup – Faiz scored 111* in the 50-over game, and followed it with a 109* in the T20.

  Faiz tends to score heavily in the World Cricket League – in 2014, he logged 317 runs at 63.40 in the Division Five tournament, 239 at 49.33 in Division Four and another 261 at 52.20 in Division Three. The 29-year-old, who first led Malaysia at the Under-19 World Cup at home in 2008, will be raring to lead from the front once again.

Arjun Mutreja (Singapore)

  A highly talented opening batsman, 27-year-old Arjun Mutreja will be banked upon by the Singaporeans to provide a robust start at the top. Born in Rajasthan in India, Mutreja has both, the maturity to dig deep and play an anchoring innings, as well as the capacity to accelerate when required.

  A worthy example of the latter was an innings of 79 off just 45 balls against Oman in the ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2014-15, an effort that gave Singapore a significant 23-run victory. Mutreja has happy memories of the last WCL Division Three, played in 2014, in which he finished as the highest run-getter with 282. An encore would surely hold Singapore in good stead.

       Leg spinner Timil Patel is expected to play a pivotal role for the United States of America in the six-team tournament in Uganda (source – usacricketers.com/shiek mohamed) 

Timil Patel (United States of America)

  Yet another India-born player on this list, 33-year-old leg spinner Timil Patel could prove to be the United States’ trump card in Uganda, what with his experience of first-class cricket – he played for his native Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy till 2009 – and the boost received in the form of a Caribbean Premier League contract in March.

  Patel was instrumental in the United States’ victorious WCL Division Four campaign last October, snaring a joint-highest of 14 wickets at 15.50, including 5/22 against Oman in a league match and a tidy 3/38 against the same opponents in the final. He also impressed for ICC Americas in the West Indies’ Regional Super50 earlier this year, taking eight wickets at 23.88.    

Zeeshan Maqsood (Oman)

  29-year-old all-rounder Zeeshan Maqsood is an integral part of the Omani set-up, as he affords his team the dual benefit of a hard-hitting opening batsman as well as a crafty slow left-arm orthodox bowler. With Oman aiming to further build on their gains of the past two years, Maqsood will assume an important role in the tournament.

  Less than three weeks ago, Maqsood hit a rapid 73 to set up Oman’s 38-run win over the United Arab Emirates, a team with ODI status, in Al Amerat. Last year against the same opponents in Dubai, he took 4/14 in less than four overs as Oman won by 72 runs. His fielding is as much of an asset, as this jaw-dropping catch at the 2016 World Twenty20 testified.

Record Book – The highest ODI total by an Associate nation

  The second match of the recently-concluded ODI series between leading Associate teams Afghanistan and Ireland saw the Afghans rack up 338 on the board, their highest ever ODI total. However, this was only the third-highest total by a non-Test playing team in ODI history; the record still remains with Kenya, who rode roughshod over Bangladesh nearly 20 years ago.

  The Kenya Cricket Association President’s Cup was a triangular tournament played in Nairobi in October 1997, featuring Zimbabwe and Bangladesh besides the hosts. The opening match at the Gymkhana Club Ground on 10th October saw the Kenyans square off against Bangladesh, the team that had beaten them in the thrilling ICC Trophy final in Kuala Lumpur six months earlier.

  This was the first official ODI to be played between the two emerging nations. Akram Khan won the toss for Bangladesh and decided to field first; little did he know that his bowlers were soon going be at the receiving end of a new world record partnership. Opening the innings for Kenya was the right-handed duo of wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno and Dipak Chudasama, a qualified dentist.

  Chudasama became the first Kenyan to score an ODI hundred, going on to make 122 from just 113 balls – studded with 16 fours – and more significantly, shared in a mammoth opening stand of 225 with Otieno. This created a new record for the highest first-wicket partnership in ODIs, going past the 212 added by Australia’s Geoff Marsh and David Boon against India at Jaipur in 1986-87.

  The breakthrough was finally achieved when pace bowler Hasibul Hossain caught Chudasama off his own bowling, but any hopes of respite for Bangladesh were stymied by Otieno, who rushed to a century of his own during the course of a second-wicket stand with Steve Tikolo – who had hit a fine 147 in the ICC Trophy final – that fetched 84 runs.

       Kenyan wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno scored 144 to help set a strong base for his team against Bangladesh at Nairobi in 1997-98 (source – cricket.com.au)

  Otieno, who was third out at 316, batted three and a half hours for his 144, which took 146 balls and consisted of 12 fours and a six. This remains the highest ODI score by a Kenyan. A final flourish from Maurice Odumbe and Thomas Odoyo swelled the total to 347/3; the previous highest by a non-Test side was Zimbabwe’s 312/4 against Sri Lanka at New Plymouth in the 1992 World Cup.

  All the Bangladeshi bowlers came in for harsh treatment, none more so than off-spinner Sheikh Salahuddin, who returned 0/80 in his ten overs. Openers Athar Ali Khan and Shahriar Hossain gave Bangladesh a sound start by putting on 55, with Athar guiding the score to 100/2 before being caught and bowled by captain Aasif Karim for a well-compiled 61.

  This wicket ended Bangladesh’s resistance, as the Kenyan spinners, spun a web around the rest of the batting. Karim’s left-arm spin fetched him a career-best haul of 5/33 in his ten overs, which remained the national record till 2002-03, when Collins Obuya famously picked 5/24 in a World Cup match against Sri Lanka at the same venue. 

  Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for only 97 to be bowled out for 197 in 43.4 overs. This 150-run margin was then Kenya’s highest in ODIs, which they bettered in 2006-07 with a 190-run drubbing of Scotland at Mombasa. Otieno was unsurprisingly adjudged as the man of the match. The tournament was eventually won by Zimbabwe, who beat Kenya 2-0 in the best-of-three finals. 

  At that time, the stand of 225 between Otieno and Chudasama was not only the highest for the first wicket, but also the fourth-highest for any wicket. The record was broken within a year, as Indian openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar stitched together 252 against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1998. At the current date, it lies in 17th place in the list of highest opening stands in ODIs.

  Kenya’s total of 347/3 however continues to be the highest by an Associate nation in an ODI, though Scotland came close to breaking it with their total of 341/9 against Canada at Christchurch in 2013-14. As far as the highest ODI total by an Associate against a Test-playing nation is concerned, the record is Ireland’s 331/8 against Zimbabwe at Hobart in the 2015 World Cup.

Match Scorecard

Specials – When a bunch of amateurs nearly capsized the table-toppers

  Ten years ago, a motley crew of amateurs from the Emerald Isle embarked upon a life-changing expedition to the Caribbean. They had among their ranks a teacher, an electrician, a postman, a fabric salesman and a handyman. Little did they know that over the next month and  half, they were to become the new darlings of international cricket.

  Clubbed with hosts West Indies, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, the Irish unknowns were naturally written off by pundits and laymen alike even before they had set foot. It did not matter that Ireland had beaten two of their group rivals on the 50-over scene earlier. They had come off a poor World Cricket League outing in Nairobi and were just not meant to make it to the second round.

  However, a mere five days into the tournament, Ireland tore the form book and awakened the ignorant from their slumber. Back home, few were even aware that the national team was at the World Cup. The men in green first tied with Zimbabwe and then memorably dispatched Pakistan on St. Patrick’s Day. Not only did they enter the second round, they did it with a game to spare.

  On 5th March, 2007, 12 days before they knocked Pakistan out, Ireland took on mighty South Africa in the first of two warm-up fixtures. The Proteas had been freshly crowned as the world’s top-ranked ODI side, toppling defending World Cup champions Australia off their perch, if only briefly. Incidentally, South Africa were the first Test nation that Ireland ever beat, back in 1904.

  The scene for this warm-up match was the nondescript Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground in the town of Saint Augustine – having a population of less than 5,000 – in north-western Trinidad and Tobago. Each side had the liberty to play up to 13 players, of which 11 could bat and field. South Africa were at full strength, and were widely expected to win in a canter.

dave-langford-smith_2007

        Irish pace bowler Dave Langford-Smith celebrates after dismissing South Africa’s A.B de Villiers in a 2007 World Cup warm-up match (source – gettyimages)

  After Graeme Smith elected to bat first, Irish pluck came to the fore in the form of Sydney-born fast bowler David Langford-Smith, who had become the first Irishman to take an ODI wicket nine months before, when he dismissed a certain Ed Joyce at Belfast. He set the tone by removing Smith, caught behind by Niall O’Brien with the total at 15.

  Eleven runs later, Langford-Smith collected his second scalp, breaking through the defences of Abraham de Villiers, who was still a few years away from being christened as cricket’s ‘Mr. 360’. It got even better when the great Jacques Kallis too failed to read Langford-Smith’s medium pace, losing his woodwork in the process. The triple strike had reduced South Africa to 42/3.

  Herschelle Gibbs seemed to be in an attacking mood, having belted four boundaries in his 21, when the resolute Trent Johnston stopped him in his tracks by castling him to make it 57/4. Gibbs was the first of Johnston’s four victims, as the Wollongong-born Irish captain proceeded to make a mockery of the South African middle order with his tricky seam bowling.

  The wicket of Ashwell Prince ensured that the top five of the South African line-up were back in the hut with only 64 on the board. Ireland’s glee was soon escalated when the dangerous Shaun Pollock nicked one to the keeper and Loots Bosman got clean bowled in the same Johnston over. The number one ODI team had lost five for nine, and were now tottering at an unthinkable 66/7.

  As long as Mark Boucher was there in the middle, the innings had every chance of a revival. But John Mooney’s innocuous medium pace induced him to offer a catch to Kevin O’Brien, one of the better fielders in the Irish side. Ireland’s joy knew no bounds as South Africa were left gasping for breath at 91/8. Was an upset on the cards even before the tournament started?

  Andrew Hall thought otherwise though. The all-rounder, who came in at the fall of the seventh wicket, calmly rebuilt from the rubble with an unbeaten 67 off 98 balls. He found support from Robin Peterson, and together they frustrated the Irish with a ninth-wicket stand worth 85. South Africa-born Andre Botha, who played first-class cricket for Griqualand West, took the last two wickets.

trent-johnston_2007

      Irish captain Trent Johnston, who took 4/40, exults after taking the wicket of Ashwell Prince at St. Augustine (source – gettyimages)

  South Africa recovered to post 192 in exactly 50 overs, a total that was certainly within the realm of possibility for Ireland to chase. Johnston finished with 4/40 from ten overs while Langford-Smith collected 3/30 from eight. It was now up to the batsmen to deliver and supplement such a fine display by the bowlers, South Africa’s rearguard notwithstanding.

  Jeremy Bray perished early, caught behind off speedster Andre Nel for a single, but fellow opener William Porterfield held the innings together with a composed 37 despite losing Eoin Morgan and Niall O’Brien at the other end, both falling to Hall. It was Roger Telamachus who dislodged Porterfield, caught by Smith, to put Ireland in a dicey situation at 85/4.

  Kevin O’Brien then joined Botha in the middle, and the pair guided Ireland to a position of real strength with a fifth-wicket partnership of 54. Only 54 runs now separated the underdogs from an astonishing victory, and they still had six wickets in hand. Botha’s caught-behind dismissal to Nel for 40 however gave South Africa the opening they so desperately needed.

  The inexperience of the Irish batsmen proved to be their undoing and they suffered a meltdown, thus squandering their grip on the contest. The lower order failed to capitalise on the gains made thus far as pacemen Hall (3/30) and Charl Langeveldt (4/31) combined to dispose the last five wickets for just 11 runs. Kevin O’Brien tried his best to hang around, but was ninth out for 33.

  The Irish innings wound up at 157 in 44.2 overs, leaving South Africa relived victors by a narrow margin of 35 runs. Ireland’s bowlers, led by Langford-Smith (4/41) starred again in the second warm-up game against Canada three days later to help secure an easy seven-wicket win for their side.

  It may have just been a warm-up and Ireland may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but the spirit that emanated from their performance against a star-studded outfit that day was carried right into the tournament, during which they delighted their supporters and made the cricket world sit up and take notice of their exploits. Irish cricket was never the same again.

Match Scorecard

In Focus – Eight players to watch out for at the Desert T20 Challenge

  The inaugural eight-nation Desert T20 Challenge, a welcome development for the Associate nations, is underway in the United Arab Emirates. The week-long tournament features eight teams clubbed into two groups: Group A includes Afghanistan, Ireland, Namibia and hosts UAE while Group B will see Hong Kong, Oman, Scotland and the Netherlands battle it out.

  The T20 format provides plenty of scope for lesser-fancied teams to upset an applecart or two, even among the Associates – an apt example of which was Oman’s memorable win over Ireland at the World T20 last year – and one can expect the Desert T20 to be full of twists, turns and game-changing feats. Here is a look at eight players, one from each team, worth keeping an eye on in the tournament.

Najibullah Zadran (Afghanistan)

  23 year-old Zadran has of late become a major impact player for Afghanistan, who arguably possess the strongest unit among the eight teams. Just a month ago, the left-hander clubbed 55* from 24 balls off the UAE bowlers with an asking rate of eleven staring at him. A T20I strike rate of 151.54 – the second-best ever – suggests that no target is out of bounds when this man is in the zone.

najibullah-zadran

      Najibullah Zadran’s remarkable strike-rate of 151.54 makes him a dangerous prospect in the Desert T20 (source – espncricinfo/ICC/sportsfile)

Paul Stirling (Ireland)

  The swashbuckling Stirling may have gone quiet in recent months, but Ireland’s opponents should discount him at their own peril. He can take the game away in a flash and his team, going through a poor patch in the shortest format, will pin its hopes on him to provide a healthy start as well as a few overs of stifling spin. He has a good record in T20Is the UAE, with a tally of 359 runs at 39.55.

Louis van der Westhuizen (Namibia)

  Namibia will look to grab this chance – they gained entry only because Papua New Guinea pulled out – to upstage higher-ranked sides. Louis van der Westhuizen will be key to their fortunes in his dual role of opener and slow left-armer. He recently returned to the side after more than two years, and impressed with a quickfire 56 against KwaZulu-Natal Inland in the CSA One-Day Challenge.   

Mohammad Naveed (United Arab Emirates)

  The UAE sprung a surprise by entering the main round of the Asia Cup T20 last year, and pivotal to their success in the qualifiers was medium pacer Mohammad Naveed, who took seven wickets at an average of 8.14, and more notably, an economy rate of 4.75. One of the rare bowlers with an economy rate under six in T20Is, he will look to continue in the same vein in front of his home crowd.

Babar Hayat (Hong Kong)

  The in-form Hayat, who was named captain last August, epitomizes the new-found spirit of his team that has made impressive strides in the last couple of years. He has the highest T20I score by an Associate batsman – a stunning 122 off 60 balls against Oman in a losing cause last year, and more recently, starred with 159 runs in Hong Kong’s ODI series win over Papua New Guinea.

babar-hayat

    Hong Kong skipper Babar Hayat will be keen to lead from the front in the Desert T20 with his belligerent batting at the top (source – hong kong cricket) 

Khawar Ali (Oman)

  Pakistan-born Khawar Ali provides Oman with a vital multi-utility option suited to the T20 game. Besides being a top-order batsman, he is an accurate leg-spinner who can be an asset in the middle overs. He was the man of the tournament in the World Cricket League in the United States last November, with his best all-round performance of 74 and 5/37 coming in a crucial game against Denmark.

Ahsan Malik (Netherlands)

  The canny Malik has grown to become one of the most effective pace bowlers in this format – a T20I record of 43 wickets at 14.81 bears testimony – and is a major factor in the Netherlands’ rise as a T20 force. His action was reported in 2015, but he has since made a return to bowling, albeit with ordinary results. The Desert T20 might just be the vehicle for him to get back to his best.

Con de Lange (Scotland)

  35-year-old slow left-armer de Lange will be Scotland’s lead spin bowler in the tournament. He is also the vice-captain of the team and a seasoned campaigner who has played for multiple first-class sides in his native South Africa as well as for Northamptonshire. His parsimonious bowling played a part in Scotland beating Hong Kong to win the Braidwood Cup last September.      

Record Book – The first World Cup match between two Associate nations

  Associate nations have invariably brought their own distinctive flair to World Cup tournaments. From the plucky Sri Lankan batsmen facing up to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in 1975, to Ireland’s never-say-die spirit that almost earned them a quarterfinal berth in 2015, the non-Test teams have provided some of the most absorbing moments in the history of the showpiece event.

  However, it was not until the 1996 edition that two Associate teams faced each other. The increase in the number of teams to 12, from nine in 1992, paved the way for the availability of three slots for Associates for the first time. Until then, the most number of non-Test teams in a World Cup edition was two – in 1975 (East Africa and Sri Lanka) and 1979 (Canada and Sri Lanka).

  The teams to qualify from the 1994 ICC Trophy held in Kenya were all first timers – the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kenya and the Netherlands finished as the top three to book their places in the 1996 World Cup, co-hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Kenya were drawn in Group A, whereas the Netherlands and the UAE were clubbed in Group B.

  The match between the Netherlands and the UAE at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on March 1, 1996 thus marked the first instance of an ODI fixture not to involve a Test-playing side. Not surprisingly, both teams had lost each of their previous games, making this a tussle to avoid the wooden spoon in the group.

  Though the UAE had won the ICC Trophy two years back, on the way defeating the Netherlands by six wickets in the semi-final, it were the Dutch who had performed relatively better in the lead-up to this match. Led by Steven Lubbers, they impressed against England at Peshawar, losing by only 49 runs, and had managed to bat out their 50 overs on all three occasions.

  The UAE team must have felt at home, since six of their eleven were born in Pakistan, four of them in Lahore. Their captain Sultan Zarawani, who had made news earlier in the tournament by facing South African speedster Allan Donald wearing a sun hat, won the toss and elected to field, just as he had done in the semifinal of the 1994 ICC Trophy.

sultan-zarawani

      Sultan Zarawani captained the UAE to their maiden ODI victory, against the Netherlands in the 1996 World Cup (source – gettyimages)

  The 47-year-old opener Nolan Clarke, the oldest ODI player of all time and scorer of an unbeaten 121 in the crucial third-place playoff match against Bermuda in the ICC Trophy, was out without scoring with only three runs on the scoreboard. The Barbados native fell to medium pacer Shahzad Altaf, who at 38 was the oldest member of the Emirati squad.

  Peter Cantrell (47) and Flavian Aponso (45) dug in for a dour second-wicket stand worth 74 runs before the latter was caught and bowled by off-spinner Shaukat Dukanwala, who was born in Bombay and played first-class cricket for Baroda. A relatively brisker stand of 71 followed for the third wicket, with Tim de Leede joining Cantrell.

  At 148/2, the Netherlands seemed to have laid a decent base for a flourishing end. But it was not to be as regular wickets stifled their chances . Left-arm spinner Azhar Saeed’s twin strikes within the space of six runs kept the Dutch in control; he first caught de Leede off his own bowling and then dispatched the obdurate Cantrell, having the former Queensland player caught behind.

  Lubbers was sent back by his opposite number Zarawani soon after, and despite an attacking sixth-wicket stand of 32 between Klaas-Jan van Noortwijk and Roland Lefebvre, it was inevitable that the Netherlands would reach nothing more than a middling total. Dukanwala made short work of the lower order, grabbing the last four wickets as the score slid from 200/5 to 210/9.

  The Netherlands eventually finished at 216/9 from their 50 overs, with Dukanwala having the satisfaction of returning figures of 5/29 in ten overs. This was the first five-wicket haul in an ODI by a bowler from an Associate team, and the second-best bowling figures in the 1996 World Cup after Paul Strang’s 5/21 for Zimbabwe against Kenya.

  The Lahore-born opening pair of Azhar Saeed and Saleem Raza gave the UAE a rampaging start, scoring 94 runs off the first 15 overs. Their partnership progressed to 117 before Saeed was run out for a watchful 32. By contrast, Raza was going hammer and tongs at the other end, severely diminishing Dutch hopes of defending the modest total.

peter-cantrell

      Dutch opener Peter Cantrell during his innings of 47, with UAE wicketkeeper Imtiaz Abbasi looking on (source – AP photo/thenational.ae)

  Two quick wickets, those of Mazhar Hussain and Raza, for three runs made the score 138/3, but these were minor blips in the chase. Raza struck a belligerent 84 from just 68 balls, studded with eight fours and six sixes – which was then the joint second-highest number of sixes by a batsman in a World Cup innings – before being dismissed by Lubbers.

  New man Mohammad Ishaq, yet another player born in Lahore, continued from where Raza left, hitting an unbeaten 51 from 55 balls. He shared in an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership worth 82 with Vijay Mehra, and the duo steered the UAE to a convincing seven-wicket win with 34 balls to spare. This was the UAE’s maiden ODI victory.

  With this win in their last match, the UAE ensured that they finished fifth out of the six teams in the group. The Netherlands went on to lose their final game of the tournament by a wide margin, to South Africa by 160 runs. They had to wait till the 2003 World Cup to notch their first ODI success, when they defeated Namibia by 64 runs at Bloemfontein.

  The Man of the Match award was shared between Dukanwala and Raza. Incidentally, Raza was also the man of the match in the aforementioned ICC Trophy semifinal between the two teams in 1994. His 84 remained the highest ODI score by a UAE batsman until 2013-14, while Dukanwala’s haul is still the only ODI fifer by a UAE bowler.

  There have since been nine other World Cup matches wherein both the teams involved were Associate members: Bangladesh v Scotland in 1999, Canada v Kenya and Namibia v Netherlands in 2003, Canada v Kenya and Netherlands v Scotland in 2007, Canada v Kenya and Ireland v Netherlands in 2011, Ireland v UAE and Afghanistan v Scotland in 2015.

  However, it is unlikely that the next World Cup, to be held in England in 2019, would see such a fixture. Thanks to the deplorable decision of limiting the number of teams to ten, chances of two Associate teams qualifying are remote, which says a lot about how detrimental this move is set to be for scores of cricketers from emerging nations who have aspired to play on the big stage.

Match Scorecard

Specials – When the World Cup champions touched down in Papua New Guinea

  The West Indies were scheduled to tour Australia for a much-awaited Test series just four months after winning the inaugural World Cup in England in 1975. Australia, led by Ian Chappell, had been their opponents in the World Cup final at Lord’s, a memorable match that ended in a 17-run win for Clive Lloyd’s men.

  As was to transpire, Australia more than made up for the disappointment with a thumping 5-1 win in the six-Test series to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy. However, before that, the West Indian contingent created history by becoming the first international team to tour and play against Papua New Guinea, who were awarded ICC Associate status in 1973.

  It had barely been a month since Papua New Guinea derived independence after 70 years of Australian rule, and the arrival of the star-studded team from the Caribbean – World Cup champions, no less – was undoubtedly a massive event for its cricketing fraternity as also for the public at large. An enthusiastic crowd gathered for the two one-day matches played.

  The West Indies first took on a Papua New Guinea Combined XI in a 25-overs-a-side match, played in the city of Lae on October 22, 1975. After Lloyd called correctly, S. Amos gave the hosts a good start by removing the dangerous Gordon Greenidge for a duck. Roy Fredericks (31) and Alvin Kallicharan (38) ensured that the run rate was not hampered in spite of regular wickets.

  The final impetus was given by Vivian Richards, then a 23-year-old who had made his international debut the previous year. Richards came in at 70/4 and top-scored with a brisk 45. Sam Malum, a 19-year-old medium pacer, impressed with a return of 3/36, including the wickets of Fredericks and Lawrence Rowe. The West Indians finished at 177/8.

    A video showing glimpses of the West Indians’ first match in Papua New Guinea, against a PNG Combined XI at Lae 

  Antiguan pace ace Andy Roberts tested the batsmen with a quality spell – he conceded only four runs in his three overs and also took the wicket of opener M. Day. With the scoring rate of more than seven looking a tall order, Day’s fellow opener Nigel Agonia decided to shut shop and batted throughout the innings for 36*. The hosts were limited to a respectable 107/3.

  The West Indians then travelled to the capital city of Port Moresby next day to face the Papua New Guinea national team in a 35-over match at Amini Park. The tourists fielded first this time, and their experienced bowling attack was too much to handle for the hosts’ top order. Bernard Julien began the damage by taking the wicket of Taunao Vai with only eight on the board.

  A run later, Roberts sent back S. Woodger before the legendary 41-year-old veteran Lance Gibbs – holder of the record for the most Test wickets – produced a double strike with the wickets of Agonia and G. Wolstenholme. The run out of K. Byrne did not help Papua New Guinea’s cause, and they were now tottering at 33/5.

  Richards too got among the wickets as he had Ilinome Tarua LBW to make it 49/6. The West Indian bowling was penetrative and their fieldwork efficient, and Papua New Guinea ran the risk of being bowled out under 100. It was turning out to be the perfect warm-up for Lloyd’s team before they entered the cauldron of Australia.

  A mini revival came in the form of a seventh-wicket partnership between wicketkeeper Lou Ao and the India-born Charles Harrison. The duo put on 46 before part-timer Kallicharan’s off-spin got rid of Harrison for 34, the top score of the innings. Ao remained unbeaten on 30 as Papua New Guinea managed 115/8.

  Greenidge was out cheaply again, courtesy a catch by Kila Alewa off M. Willard. But Fredericks was in an attacking mood at the other end, and at 46/1, the West Indians were seemingly waltzing towards the modest target. However, the next three wickets fell for seven runs, leaving the locals excited.

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    Captain Clive Lloyd scored 88 for the West Indians in their match against Papua New Guinea at Amini Park, ahead of the Test series in Australia 

  Harrison built on his batting display by castling Rowe and then having Kallicharan caught by Wolstenholme, while K. Kalo saw the back of wicketkeeper David Murray, who batted at number four in a rejigged batting order. The West Indians were suddenly 53/4 and not exactly out of the woods.

  Lloyd walked in at the fall of the fourth wicket and immediately imposed his authority on the proceedings. Harrison, who finished with a neat 3/36, soon took his third wicket in the form of Fredericks (35), and when Willard nailed the big scalp of Richards, the West Indians were 97/6 and still 19 short of victory.

  Lloyd and Julien (35) ensured that there was no embarrassment in store as they calmly knocked off the remaining runs to seal a four-wicket win for their team. The West Indians sportingly decided to bat on until they were bowled out – they ultimately scored 201 in 31 overs. Lloyd led from the front, entertaining the crowd with a knock of 88.

  The significant aspect of this match was that Papua New Guinea’s eleven consisted of six indigenous players, and from hereon, indigenous players began to dominate the national team. Having their skills tested against the World Cup holders was an invaluable experience as they strove to become a competitive unit.

  The visit of a champion cricket team indeed meant a great deal for the newly-independent nation. Four years later, the Barramundis played in the ICC Trophy for the first time, where they failed to progress beyond the first round. In the next edition in 1982, they gave a highly commendable performance by finishing third. 

  Papua New Guinea played their first List A match in 2005, against the Netherlands at Belfast in the ICC Trophy. They had to wait for nearly a decade before gaining ODI status, and created history by becoming the first nation to win its first two ODIs. They also won their maiden first-class match, in the Netherlands in 2015.

Match Scorecards:

Papua New Guinea Combined XI v West Indians

Papua New Guinea v West Indians