Unrelentng rain in Kampala saw Namibia and Kenya become the latest countries to secure berths at the T20 World Cup Global Qualifier, to be held on the United Arab Emirates in October.
A total washout on the final day of the Africa Regional Final meant Namibia and Kenya, both undefeated in the tournament, progressed with three wins and two no-reults apiece. The weather denied Nigeria, whose opening loss to Kenya was their only defeat of the week, a chance at catching the two frontrunners as their final match against Uganda was also abandoned without a ball bowled.
The weather made its presence felt early in the tournament, with all three matches on the opening day postponed till the reserve day in the face of heavy rain, delaying what would be the first official men’s T20 Internationals for all of the sides bar Kenya. The elements relented on day two, however, allowing the three most fancied teams to record convincing opening wins. Dhiren Gondaria’s unbeaten 47 from the top of the order saw Kenya comfortably home in a rain-reduced match against Nigeria after skipper Shem Ngoche’s spell of 2-6 in 3 overs had helped hold the Nigerians to 105-5 in 15 overs. Similarly, Namibia made light work of a modest chase against Ghana, Zhivago Groenewald taking three wickets as Ghana were bowled out for 91 and Stephen Baard’s 51* getting Namibia over the line.
Uganda too recorded a convincing win in their opener agaist Botswana, Arnild Otwani top-scoring with 44 from 27 as they posted 142-7 and the evergreen offie Frank Nsumbuga, now in his 22nd year as an international cricker, claiming 2-19 from 4 overs as Botswana were rolled for 90. Neither Botswana nor Ghana would manage a sigle win in the games the rain allowed them and Uganda would sink to consecutive defeats in their next two games. Karl Birkenstock’s 28-ball 59 and Christi Viljoen’s return of 4-15 saw Namibia to a 42-run win before Kenya held on to claim what would prove a decisive victory over their neighbours by the margin of just one run. Uganda fell agonisingly short despite a defiant, unbeaten 44* from tournament top-scorer Riazat Ali Shah.
Nigeria’s wins over Botswana and Kenya kept them in the running heading into the final day, needing only to beat Uganda to draw level on points with the hypothetical loser of Namibia and Kenya’s final top-table clash, and in with a reasonable chance of surpassing Kenya on Net Run Rate. In the event, the weather would deny them that chance, ensuring that, as in 2015, Namibia and Kenya will be representing the African Associates at the Global Qualifier.
They will be joined in the UAE by fellow-qualifiers Papua New Guinea, who won through the East Asia Pacific Sub-Regionals and Regional final without dropping a single game, and by the Emiratis themselves, who were granted a bye as tournament hosts exempting them from the Asia regional final, despite originially being included in the qualifying draw, and indeed participating in sub-regional qualifying.
The decision leaves only one berth on offer at the Asian Regional final, which will be contested by Nepal, Malaysia, Qatar, Kuwait and hosts Singapore toward the end of July. Likewise there’s just the one spot available at the European Final, which will be held in Guernsey in three weeks time. With Denmark, Jersey, Germany, Italy and Norway joining the hosts in pursuit of the solitary qualification berth. The final two spots will go to the top two teams from the Americas Final in August, featuring the United States, Canada, the Cayman Islands and hosts Bermuda.
The five regional qualifiers will join the hosts UAE at the Global Qualifier, which runs from October 18th through November 15th this year. Also contesting the 14-team tournament will be the bottom six teams from the T20 rankings table as it was before the extension of universal T20I status: Scotland, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Oman and Ireland. The top six teams from that month-long tournament progress to the “first round” group stage qualifier at the tournament proper in Australia next year, joining Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, from which the top four teams will progress to the Super 12 stage.