ISLAMABAD: The ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 would kick off at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday as Bangladesh, Kenya, Malaysia, Scotland and Sri Lanka vie for the lone remaining slot at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham.
The round-robin T20 tournament to decide who joins the seven teams already qualified for Birmingham - Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa – commences with a match between Bangladesh and Malaysia and will see Bangladesh and Sri Lanka face off on the last day, said a press release issued here.
England and six other highest-ranked ICC Members in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings as of April 1, 2021 qualified directly for the Commonwealth Games, with the slot for the West Indies going to Barbados since athletes from the Caribbean will be representing their countries and not the West Indies (as they are affiliated with the ICC). Barbados was nominated by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on the basis of their win in the 2019 CWI T20 Blaze Tournament.
Women’s cricket would be part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever in what is seen as a huge opportunity to take the game to new fans. It would only be the second time that cricket will feature in it after a men’s competition was part of the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Bangladesh captain Niger Sultana has the chance of leading her team into the Birmingham Games to cap a fine year that has already seen them qualify for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in March-April.
Nigar Sultana said, “As this is a T20 tournament, I am expecting the opening batters to get us off to quick starts. We have experienced campaigners to compliment the youthful exuberance in our team. It’s going to be a combined effort from all of us if we do well here.
Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu feels it is vital for their team to win the tournament after having missed qualifying for the 50-over World Cup. “We have a very good chance of winning this tournament and qualifying for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We have experienced players as well as talented youngsters in our side, with the likes of Harsitha Samarawickrama and Kavisha Dilhari the ones to look out for.”
Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce understands that it would not be easy for her team but is still aiming to win the Qualifier. “It’s been a challenging build-up with COVID-19 still affecting things, but we’ve managed to get together as a squad to train together regularly. “We’ve been indoors over the winter period, but I think there have been some good camps during the preparation and I’ve seen some good progression, so I believe we’ll be ready for the tournament.”
Kenya captain Margaret Ngoche wants to make the most of the opportunity of playing against teams like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. “We know that this is a tournament like we have never experienced before. We will be playing with teams that have played in the World Cup. One of our major weapons is our mental capacity and experience that we have gathered through the years. The training and practice matches are just a way to polish the already effective tools that we possess. We have really invested in our mental capacity, because our 100% is better than the rest.”
Malaysia captain Winifred Anne Duraisingam was hoping to gain the edge from familiar home conditions. “Kinrara Oval has hosted many international tournaments including ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2008, the Women’s Asia Cup and many other ICC and ACC (Asian Cricket Council) events. The pitch is very lively and is good for both batting and bowling.”