Five players to watch at the T20 World Cup qualifiers
The T20 World Cup qualifier gets underway on October 18, and the 14 teams involved have plenty of players looking not only to win their teams games, but to make a name for themselves in the process. Here are five under-the-radar talents to keep an eye on...
Deunte Darrell (Bermuda)
Most people have their attention focused on Sussex allrounder Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock, the big-hitting, fast-bowling nephew of Dwayne Leverock. But Bermuda have a string of fearless power-hitters scattered through their lineup and few come into the tournament with more confidence and form than Darrell.
Ten years after last representing the nation at U-19 level in 2009, Darrell made his senior debut at the Americas Regional Final in August on home soil. The tall, lanky middle-order batsman punished USA's Hayden Walsh Jr. for a string of sixes in an unbeaten 30 off 23 balls that clinched Bermuda's place in the UAE at the expense of USA. He clubbed a rapid 47* off 25 balls in a warm-up match win over Nigeria on Monday and is a fantastic fielder, regularly patrolling long-on in the death overs where his safe hands also play a significant role.
JP Kotze (Namibia)
Few batsmen in Associate cricket are in hotter form than the burly left-hander Kotze. Utilising windy conditions to hit with the breeze in south Florida, he struck 11 fours and eight sixes - all over the leg side including two 100-metre hits that went over the roof and out of the stadium at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill - as part of his 136 off 109 balls against USA last month to record Namibia's first ever ODI century.
Against Hong Kong, another team featuring at the Qualifier in the UAE, Kotze brutalized their bowlers in scoring 148 off 86 balls at WCL Division Two in April, a win that clinched ODI status for Namibia. Kotze showed he can do it in T20I cricket too, scoring the country's first-ever T20I ton against Botswana off just 43 balls in August.
Ben Stevens (Jersey)
The fulcrum of the Channel Islanders' fortunes at bat and in the field, the tall left-arm spinning allrounder bats at No. 3 and is guaranteed to bowl a full quota in favorable conditions in the UAE. His value was underscored by his absence due to a medical issue in 2016 at WCL Division Four in Los Angeles. Having been a major cog in winning Division Five on home soil five months earlier, he watched from the sidelines in Los Angeles as Jersey finished in the bottom two to be relegated without him.
He didn't bowl much in the European Regional qualifier in June but came through with a key knock of 44 before taking 3 for 17 in a convincing win over Norway. Most recently, he played a vital role in Jersey's pair of warm-up wins in Dubai leading into the start of the tournament by striking 32 off 19 balls to help seal a swift chase against Kenya before a miserly four-over spell of 1 for 14 helped bowl Singapore out for 112.
Ravinderpal Singh (Canada)
Coming off the Global T20 Canada for Toronto Nationals where middle-order opportunities were limited in a lineup featuring Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard, Ravinderpal became the first player to strike a T20I century on debut when he belted 101 off 48 balls - including 10 sixes - in a win over Cayman Islands at White Hill Field in Bermuda. He eliminated any doubt that he could produce against higher-class teams when he savaged USA legspinner Timil Patel on the way to striking 67 off 33 balls with eight sixes to cement Canada's undefeated tournament at the regional qualifier in Bermuda.
Ravinderpal has adjusted to conditions in the UAE comfortably too. Entering at 50 for 3 in the seventh over chasing a challenging target of 165 against Singapore on Tuesday, he smoked an unbeaten 79 off 38 balls that included another seven sixes as Canada managed to seal the chase with two overs to spare. In addition to his power-hitting, he's also fairly dependable as a catching fielder at long-on in the final few overs.
Tim David (Singapore)
If you're questioning why Nepal and Sandeep Lamichhane aren't in the UAE this week, Tim David is the answer. The Western Australia-raised batsman used his experience from Perth Scorchers to burn the Nepal bowling unit with 77 off 43 balls in July in a performance that knocked Nepal out and clinched Singapore's first appearance in the global qualifier.
David hasn't slowed down since. He was the leading scorer at the opening Cricket World Cup Challenge League series held in Malaysia with four fifties in five innings in September, and he took that one-day form back into T20 cricket by sparking Singapore to their maiden win over a Full Member when he made 41 off 23 balls in a four-run win over Zimbabwe on September 29.