PNG and Scotland well placed for World Cup slots
Six teams have advanced from the group stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier New Zealand 2014 (CWCQ) to the next stage of the tournament, with Papua New Guinea (PNG) the team to beat in the Super Six stage that commences on Sunday, 26 January at three venues across Christchurch.
The teams to progress to the Super Six stage of the ICC CWCQ NZ 2014 are Scotland, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Group A, alongside PNG, Namibia and Kenya from Group B.
The Super Six matches will be played at Rangiora Oval, Hagley Oval and Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Christchurch from 26 to 30 January, with each team carrying forward its points from the group stage that it won against other Super Six teams.
Hong Kong, Namibia, PNG, Scotland and UAE all recorded three victories from four matches in the group stage. However, PNG is the only team to have beaten two other Super Six sides, and is therefore the only team to carry four points forward. Kenya must will all three Super Six matches to stay in contention for a finals berth, having not brought any points.
PNG, which takes on the number-one seeded team of the tournament, UAE, in its first Super Six match at Hagley Oval, Christchurch, on Sunday, will be the team to beat in the Super Six stage.
The side won three group matches, including comprehensive victories over the two other Group B Super Six teams, Kenya and Namibia (both by eight wickets). After a large defeat to Netherlands (130 runs), PNG bounced back against Namibia, with Lega Siaka scoring the sixth highest individual score of the tournament (112 not out). The diminutive opener is the second highest run-getter of the tournament (294).
The PNG bowling attack has also proved consistent throughout the event, with leg-spinner Charles Amini claiming six for 19 against Uganda. Skipper Chris Amini, Mahuru Dai and Pipi Raho have added very capable support, each claiming wickets in the side's last match against Namibia.
PNG's opposition on Sunday, the UAE, was the top-ranked team in the tournament after finishing third in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship 2011-13 (WCLC).
Skipper Khurram Khan has led with the bat throughout the tournament, and is the third-highest run-getter (275) and fourth in the list of boundary-hitters (29).
The side's much vaunted spin attack has not been as successful in New Zealand conditions as it was during the WCLC, however, the side recorded three victories in the group stage, including wins over Hong Kong (22 runs), Nepal (102 runs) and Canada (80 runs).
UAE also won both its warm-up matches, firstly against Uganda (37 runs) and then against Netherlands (six wickets).
The second Super Six match on Sunday will see Scotland face Namibia at Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln, in a repeat of a warm-up match which the European side won by 63 runs.
Scotland comes into the match high on confidence after a decisive 170-runs victory over Canada in its last match. Scotland won three matches on the trot after losing its opener to Hong Kong (17 runs), and the side also won both its warm up matches, which were played against Group B Super Six teams PNG (seven wickets) and Namibia (63 runs).
Ranked third coming into the tournament, Scotland finished top of Group A with three victories, ahead of Hong Kong and UAE on net run-rate.
In-form opener Calum MacLeod has led the way with the bat and is the highest run-getter of the tournament (345) after hitting two centuries, including the highest individual score of the tournament (175).
With the ball, fast-medium pacer Iain Wardlaw is the fourth highest wicket-taker (11).
The side will face a strong Namibia bowling attack, with all-rounder Christi Viljoen the fifth highest wicket-taker (10) of the tournament, and fast-medium pacer Louis Klazinga recording the fourth best bowling figures (four for 27).
Namibia won its first three games of the tournament, defeating Netherlands (91 runs), Kenya (two wickets) and Uganda (100 runs), before slumping to an eight-wicket loss to PNG in the final match. The side lost four wickets lbw in gusty conditions, and will be hoping that its batsman can rally around the side's leading run-scorer, Gerrie Snyman (143 runs).
In the third match of the day, Kenya will face Hong Kong at Rangiora Oval. The sides played in a nail-biting warm-up match, which Hong Kong won by two runs despite and unbeaten knock of 130 by Kenya's Irfan Karim.
Hong Kong finished 2nd in Group A with wins over Scotland (17 runs), Canada (nine wickets) and Nepal (10 wickets), before suffering a loss to UAE (22 runs) to be knocked out of the top spot in the group.
The side has performed strongly with the bat and the ball during the tournament, with opener Irfan Ahmed the fourth-highest run-scorer of the tournament (265). Medium-pacer Haseeb Amjad is the highest wicket-taker of the tournament (13). Irfan Ahmed also claimed six for 27 against PNG in the side's second warm-up match.
Kenya defeated Netherlands in its last Group B match to leapfrog the Dutch into the top three. The side started slowly in the tournament, losing to PNG (eight wickets) and then to Namibia (two wickets), before beating Uganda (47 runs) and the Netherlands (four wickets), suggesting that the team may be peaking at the pointy end of the tournament.
Having not beaten a Super Six team in the group stage, Kenya must win all three of its Super Six matches, and will rely on an all-round team performance to carry it through. Collins Obuya is the side's leading run-scorer with 215, while support should come from veteran Steve Tikolo (120) and Irfan Karim (137).