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Captains of the teams competing to make the final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2022 supported by Dream11 and book a place in next year’s ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa are confident going into the eight-team tournament that runs in Abu Dhabi from 18 to 25 September.
Bangladesh and Thailand, who featured in the last edition of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020, are the two leading teams in terms of their positions in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings and aiming to come out tops.
Ireland, Scotland and the USA are pooled along with Bangladesh in Group A while Thailand are in Group B along with Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the UAE. The top two teams from each group will make the semi-finals while the finalists will book their places in the T20 World Cup.
The team captains share their views on the importance of the tournament, their team’s chances, and the players to look out for in the tournament.
Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana Joty: “We are obviously looking to ensure qualification. It’s not about the opposition or the conditions. We are focusing on improvement all the time.
“I think in terms of experience and quality, we are right up there. The players have been together for a while and therefore the team spirit is excellent. This is one tournament where we will get the opportunity to look at some of our young upcoming talents like Marufa Akter, who bowls quick, has hard-hitting abilities and is a brilliant fielder. We can also count on the international experience of Jahanara (Alam), Salma (Khatun), Lata (Mondol), Fargana (Hoque) and Rumana (Ahmed). We are nicely balanced.
“We have played a major domestic competition, the National Cricket League, before coming here. This season’s tournament was played in a T20 format, which has helped the players adapt to the different style because our last international competition was the 50-over World Cup. Besides, we have been training continuously and I must thank the Board for providing all out support for our preparations.
“I believe we are prime contenders to qualify for the main event, and there, the challenge is to live up to expectations. I am very confident in the capabilities of my team, but we have to play our natural game and be consistent.”
Ireland captain Laura Delany: “We want to qualify for the World Cup and compete in South Africa next February. However, every other team will have the same mindset. Our focus at the moment is our group games and trying to play our best cricket in each of those.
“Gaby Lewis, Orla Prendergast and Arlene Kelly are three players to look out for. Arlene Kelly made her debut for Ireland this summer and has been a brilliant addition to the side with the new ball.
“We just played a two T20 game series against Scotland in Edinburgh which we won. We have had a couple of days of prep camp in Dubai ahead of our first warm up game.
“I think the biggest challenge for us will be playing in these conditions. The weather here is quite different to what we’re used to in Ireland, high temperatures and humidity. The majority of the team have never played under lights, we have two games under lights so that will also be a good challenge.”
Papua New Guinea captain Kaia Arua: “We have some good batters, backup spinners and medium pacers with variations. We are also very quick running between the wickets. We have a good mixture of youth and experience.
“Cricket is a team sport so I believe if we work as a team, we will win. Teamwork makes the dream work. Our team’s preparations have been good and I’m glad we came early, had a couple of practice matches, which gives us a heads up on what we should improve or work on.
“This will be a very challenging tournament for us as we’ve been away from playing international cricket for almost three years due to COVID-19. But we have been training and are looking forward to playing in this tournament and hopefully qualifying for the World Cup.
Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce: “Obviously, the team’s main objective is to qualify for the World Cup. We’ve just got to take it game by game though and focus on the game in front of us.
“I think this team’s strong point has always been the strength in our bowling with fantastic spinners in Katherine Fraser and Abtaha Maqsood, but we have also really developed strength and depth in our batting line up, that can win us games of cricket.
“We haven’t had a huge amount of international cricket but there has been a good regional series in Scotland leading up to the tournament, with some players getting good experience in different competitions.
“I think one of the biggest challenges will be the heat and playing under the lights. That is something most of the girls won’t have done much if at all, but I think we are in a good place to adapt and perform next week.”
Thailand captain Naruemol Chaiwai: “Our team’s objective is to win the tournament. We are a strong unit and have great teamwork and everyone will contribute to our success.
“In the last three months we traveled to India to train. We had a chance to play games with state teams and academy teams. We faced a variety of bowlers and played on different type of pitches that will help us adjust quickly and figure out our options.
“COVID-19 has kept us away from International competition. To come back and play in this tournament, it is quite exciting for me.
“This qualifier is also a challenge for me as a captain to lead the team to another World Cup.”
UAE captain Chaya Mughal: “The only objective right now is to win all the matches and qualify for the World Cup.
“The unique thing about our team is our team composition with a mixed blend of experienced and young players. It helps to absorb the pressure easily.
“We have a lot of potential and talented players on board and on a given day anyone could be a match winner for us.
“We have been preparing and working really hard despite the weather being extremely hot, our outdoor centre wicket practice and match stimulation is something that is really helping us at present. Clearing the boundary ropes is something that we have been focusing on and we will be utilizing that in the coming games.
“Playing at this level itself is a challenge considering the teams that we are going to face have already played the World Cup and we are very much prepared for this. We are not taking any pressure on us and just playing one game at a time.”
USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha: “The team’s objective is to qualify for the World Cup. Having said that, it’s important we trust in our processes and check all the boxes to achieve the objective.
“We have a very young side with 12 teenagers. All of the 15 have the potential to be match-winners. We will be playing a fearless brand of cricket and backing everyone to express themselves.
“We started our prep with a domestic pathways program – playing the intra, regional and national tournaments in the USA, which helped us pick the best 15. Many of those picked in this side were also part of the victorious Under-19 playing against the West Indies Under-19 team leading up to travelling to the UAE.
“We took part in the T20I quadrangular series in Dubai too. We played against the top Associate teams in this series which has helped us prepare for the Qualifiers. This pre-tour series and camp in Dubai has helped us acclimatise to the conditions and work out our possible combinations leading to the Qualifiers.
“The main theme of the tournament has been to be adaptable. The team has been committed and showing progress. We have trust in our training and preparations leading up to this Qualifier and believe we can stand up to any challenge we face.”
Zimbabwe captain Mary-Anne Musonda: “Our team’s objectives at the tournament are mainly to apply ourselves and go through our processes thoroughly while taking each game as it comes. We want to qualify for the World Cup, but we understand that getting there will take us managing all moments as they will come in each game.
“I think teamwork is what we’re going in with. We want to play a brand of cricket that we have been playing in the last couple of months, which is playing with freedom and being brave. All the other finer aspects in each department sort of take care of themselves. Match winners is a tough one if I’m not to mention the whole team but maybe Sharne (Mary Mayers), Nomvelo (Sibanda) and Josephine (Nakai Nkomo).
“We have been in Namibia, India and South Africa preparing for this tournament, working on our game and working on minds. It’s been a successful few months. I think probably adjusting to playing under lights might present a few challenges for us. But we’re hoping to manage that as well.”
The timings of the matches, which are being held at the Zayed Cricket Stadium and the adjacent Tolerance Oval, have been changed to 15h00 and 19h00 local time from the original 10h00 and 14h00.