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6 players to watch out for in the WCL Division 2

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ICC_WCL_Division_2_Players_to_watch_out_forThe stakes will be high at the ICC World Cricket League Division Two, set to begin in Namibia from 8th February. The weeklong 50-over competition will feature six Associate nations, of which only the top two will earn entry into the ten-team World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in March. The tournament will consist of a round-robin stage, with each team playing every other once, followed by playoffs.

The teams in action are the bottom four teams from the 2015-17 WCL Championship, namely Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Nepal and Namibia, and the top two teams from the 2017 WCL Division Three, namely Oman and Canada. Eighteen matches will be contested across three venues in Windhoek. With the tournament getting underway soon, here is a look at six players – one from each of the participating nations – who will be worth keeping an eye on.

Satsimranjit Dhindsa (Canada)

India-born fast bowler Satsimranjit Dhindsa is a vital cog in the Canadian bowling attack. With a collection of 11 scalps at just 14.81 each, the 26-year-old was the second-highest wicket-taker at the 2017 WCL Division Three in Uganda, a performance that was instrumental in Canada’s promotion-clinching second-place finish.

Along with the equally promising Cecil Pervez, Dhindsa forms an effective opening partnership that can put batsmen to the test early in the innings. His abilities are not limited to the ball – he can wield the long handle as well, which provides Canada with an added asset in the lower order. In 2014-15, he was part of the ICC Americas Young Cricketers outfit that toured Barbados.        

Dhiren Gondaria (Kenya)

Dhiren Gondaria, another India-born player, will be significant to Kenya’s prospects in the tournament. The 2003 World Cup semifinalists, whose batting struggles have pushed them down the pecking order in the last few years, will be relying on a strong showing from the talented 23-year-old top-order batsman as they look to revive their dwindling fortunes.

Gondaria, who represents Kanbis in the Nairobi Super League, played a key role in Kenya’s heartening two-wicket win in the WCL Championship over the Netherlands - the eventual champions - last October. Coming in at number three, he scored 63 in 61 balls to hand Kenya the advantage in a tricky chase of 225. His team would be hoping for more of the same in Namibia.

Jan Frylinck (Namibia)

Born in South Africa, southpaw Jan Frylinck is arguably the most valuable player in the Namibian side. The 23-year-old all-rounder, who earlier represented South Africa at the 2012 Under-19 World Cup and first played for Namibia only in 2016-17, lends great balance to the hosts with his aggressive middle-order batting coupled with his crafty, left-arm fast-medium pace.

Frylinck gave a shining illustration of his batting ability last month, when he came in at 69/5 in a chase of 285 against Border in a CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge game at East London, and went on to smash a match-winning 126* from 105 balls. He is currently the leading run-scorer in the competition, with 362 at 90.50, and will be looking to continue his rich vein of form.

Sompal Kami (Nepal)

Nepal’s recent performances have not been commensurate to the expectations of their passionate fan base, and this tournament presents a massive opportunity to set the record straight. Among their rising stars is the 22-year-old fast bowler Sompal Kami, who announced himself at the 2014 World Twenty20 by crossing the 140 kmph mark during Nepal’s nine-run win over Afghanistan.

Kami has done well in Namibia before – he took 11 wickets at 19.18 in the WCL Division Two held there in 2014-15. He recorded his first List A five-wicket haul two months ago, taking 5/27 in a losing cause against the UAE. Nepal are prone to batting meltdowns, which makes it all the more crucial for the bowlers to step up. Kami, with his pace, has it in him to make a difference.  

Khawar Ali (Oman)

Oman’s victory at the 2017 WCL Division Three owed much to the bowling of leg-spinning all-rounder Khawar Ali, who took a tournament-high of 14 wickets at 12.28, with a best of 5/23 against Malaysia. He also starred at the 2016 WCL Division Four in the United States, where he was named the player of the tournament for scoring 168 runs and taking 13 wickets.

Khawar was key to Oman’s 3-0 clean sweep of the United States at home in December, as he collected seven wickets at 14.14. The 32-year-old is also trusted with opening the batting for Oman, making him an indispensible component of the team. Oman may find it a challenge to finish in the top two, but a solid display from Khawar can go a long way in achieving that goal.

Imran Haider (United Arab Emirates)

Lahore-born leg-spinner Imran Haider made his ODI debut at Dubai in a triangular series in January 2017, and immediately made an impact by capturing 3/36 in the UAE’s four-wicket win against Scotland. He bettered this return in his next ODI against Hong Kong two days later, this time taking a tidy 4/25 to be named Man of the Match in his team’s convincing six-wicket win.

Haider has 27 wickets at 21.77 in 15 List A matches, numbers that will hold him in good stead in Namibia. He has good memories of Windhoek, having taken 3/27 there in a WCL Championship match to help bowl the hosts out for 89. The 30-year-old has gone on to become the UAE’s first-choice leg-spinner within the past year, and he will look to repay the faith in the coming week. 

 

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