CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH (AFP): As cricket’s big guns lock horns at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, the minnow nations can take pride in their performances as they seek to make progress on the global stage.
The tournament has reached the Super 10 round, for which the top eight nations qualified automatically, joined by Bangladesh and the Netherlands.
Six International Cricket Council (ICC) associate teams tried their luck in the group stage at the fifth World Twenty20 alongside Test-playing nations Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, who were pipped by the Dutch in Group ‘B’.
The stand-out results were a win for unheralded Hong Kong against the hosts and victory for Ireland over Zimbabwe. Nepal pushed Bangladesh hard for a place in the Super 10 round.
Former Pakistan captain-turned-commentator Wasim Akram said he had been impressed with the performances of the associate members.
“I am impressed with Nepal and Hong Kong,” Wasim said. “To begin with, some people might say there were too many associate teams but the format, with minnows battling out in the first round justified that many new teams.
“I must say that the Netherlands and Nepal were the stand-out teams among the associates and for me Hong Kong beating Bangladesh was the biggest upset,” said Wasim.
The Netherlands rewrote the record books by hitting 19 sixes — the most in a T20 International — during their stunning six-wicket win to qualify for the Super 10s on Friday.
They edged out Zimbabwe and fancied Ireland and will be confident they beat one of the top teams in a repeat of their shock win against England at the 2009 World Twenty20.
Needing to reach a daunting 190-run target, the Netherlands raced to 100 in just seven overs and hit 91 in the six power play overs — both new records.
The Ireland-Netherlands match saw 30 sixes — the most in a T20 International.
Nepal, appearing for the first time at a major event, beat Hong Kong and the more experienced Afghanistan side to herald their arrival on the international stage, prompting the government to announce grants to build new infrastructure.
There is huge interest in the game in Nepal and all the players are home-grown, whereas the likes of Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates have to rely on expatriate players.
“This World Twenty20 proved a good experience for us,” said Nepal skipper Paras Khadka.
“We can build on this success and the biggest plus for us is that all of our players are home-grown.”ICC chief executive David Richardson said the associate nations had justified their inclusion at the event.
“There have been some mediocre performances but some encouraging performances as well. And I think the performances fully justified the fact that we got six associate members playing in the tournament,” said Richardson.
“I am certainly encouraged by the performances in particular of Nepal, Hong Kong and, of course, Ireland, who are consistently proving to be our top associate member.”
The ICC has a high-performance programme in place to develop the quality of associate teams. to enable them to close the gap on the Test-playing nations.
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