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January 2, 2019

Pakistan lead list of direct qualifiers for T20 World Cup

Sports

January 2, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan, the world-top-ranked T20 team, spearheaded the list of automatic qualifiers for next year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020 to be played in Australia.

The International Cricket Council on Tuesday confirmed the sides that have qualified directly for the event based on the ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings as on 31 December 2018.

As per the qualification criteria set for the tournament, Australia and the other nine top ranked sides have ensured direct qualification. The top eight make it straight to the Super 12s stage while the remaining two will play in the group stage along with six other teams who will make it through from the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in 2019. Four teams from the group stage will advance to the Super 12s.

Of the top 10 sides on the rankings table, world No. 1 Pakistan, India, England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, the Windies and Afghanistan will start their campaign directly in the Super 12s. Former champions and three-time finalists Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will have to contend with the other six qualifiers in the group stage of the tournament, which will be held from October 18 to November 15 2020.

Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga was disappointed at the 2014 champions not making it to the Super 12s but was confident of the team doing well in the tournament while Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan indicated that recent performances had given them belief and they would prepare well for the challenge.

Malinga commented: “It is a bit disappointing that we have not been able to ensure a direct Super 12s berth but I’m confident that we will do well in the tournament.

“Having played three finals and winning once, it is natural that everyone expected us to finish in the top-eight but we have to take the opportunity in the extra matches of the group stage and prepare well for the knock-out matches.

“We have some fine players in the ranks and it is only a matter of doing our best when the time comes. We look forward to challenges coming our way as we prepare for the big event.”

Shakib said: “We have not secured a direct Super 12s berth but I’m confident that we will do well in the tournament by going through the group stage.

“We are a side capable of beating the best on our day and I see no reason why we can’t go far in the tournament. There is still some time and we will use it to be at our best for the T20 World Cup.

“We won a T20 series against the West Indies, the world champions, in their backward not so long ago. That performance has given us a lot of belief in our Twenty20 capabilities.”

Meanwhile, the biggest news of ICC’s announcement was Afghanistan’s direct entry in the T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan’s progression up the T20I rankings corresponds with a slip down the order for Sri Lanka, who currently sit in ninth place on 87 points. It means the 2014 world champions will have to go through the opening round of the tournament in order to reach the “Super 12s”, where teams will be split into two groups of six for round-robin play.

The 2020 tournament will mark the first time that Afghanistan won’t have to go through a qualifying round in order to reach the main phase of the T20 World Cup, now dubbed the “Super 12s”. They went a perfect seven-for-seven in T20Is in 2018, including a 3-0 sweep of Bangladesh, to move up to eighth on the rankings table, five points clear of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Afghanistan qualified for the first in the West Indies in 2010 after beating Ireland in the final of the T20 World Cup Qualifier in UAE earlier that year. They subsequently qualified again in 2012 for a then 12-team event and also reached the opening round of the 2014 tournament but finished below both Nepal and eventual opening-round group winners Bangladesh.

In addition to Ireland and Zimbabwe, four Associates have been fast-tracked into the T20 Global Qualifier by virtue of their participation in the opening round of the 2016 T20 World Cup: Scotland, Netherlands, Hong Kong and Oman. They will be joined by eight other Associates who will advance from five regional qualification finals (Africa, Americas, Asia, East Asia-Pacific, Europe) to take place in the first half of 2019.

The 14-team T20 Global Qualifier is expected to take place in October or November this year at a venue yet to be determined. The top six teams at that tournament will join Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the opening round in Australia.

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