Teams in Div 3 Tournament are evenly balanced
Today I want to take a closer look at the teams that the Bermuda national cricket team will face come April 28th in the ICC Division 3 tournament. USA, Nepal, Italy, Uganda and Oman are the opposition who will be challenging Bermuda for that all important top two finish. With the schedule being released this week the interest now mounts. There are no easy games in this group as all teams are pretty much evenly balanced.
USA: This is a team who has always been one of Bermudas main rivalries as they like us are a part of the Americas region. USA is a team made up of overseas players from various countries, but have met the conditions and requirements to be eligible to represent the USA. Captain, Steve Messiah is an outstanding batsman who has in the past dominated at this level, and he is still one to watch. Another outstanding and ferocious batsman who comes out of the Sir Viv Richards mole is Steven Taylor. The two of them alone can destroy any bowling attack. Controversy however surrounds the USA camp as according to an article on USA home page via cricinfo two veteran players have not been selected for the final squad. Bowler Usman Shuja would be a surprise omission as he is the second highest wicket taker in 50-over cricket, and batsman Aditya Thyagarajan is the teams third highest run scorer in 50-over cricket. It will be interesting to see if this causes a distraction to a strong USA team. Regardless, on the bowling front they will certainly bank on a three prong spin attack with the ever dangerous Muhammad Ghous being the man to watch.
Italy: This is a team that seemed to appear from nowhere and now is a team to be reckoned with. Italy will surprise one or two teams in this tournament. They have grown in stature over the years. I can recall years ago when Bermudas former coach Doug Ferguson first went there to coach as they wanted to improve their programme and they have continued to make steady progress ever since. Back in 2011 Italy was in Division 3 and qualified to stay in the division by finishing 4th ahead of Denmark, which shows they are not push overs and cannot be taken lightly. Key players for Italy are all-rounder Petricola and bowler Munasinghe, both of whom on their day can cause any team trouble.
Uganda: Like Bermuda were relegated from Division 2. Uganda is a team that Bermuda is very familiar with as we have played them several times over the years. Historically, a team Bermuda would beat for fun, but they have quickly closed the gap that once was. Back in 2009 Uganda scored 350 against Bermuda in a 50 over game, but we managed to still win the match. Then in 2011, here in Bermuda Uganda beat us convincingly, which certainly will give them a high degree of confidence going into this tournament. They are a hard working team who will probably be one of if not the best fielding team in the tournament. They are a very capable batting team, but very inconsistent, hence the reason they signed veteran Kenyan batsman Steve Tikolo as their batting coach. Although I dont see Uganda qualifying they could pose a massive challenge to Bermuda and the rest of the teams and could have a say in who actually wins the tournament. Players to look out for would be batsman Kyobe Arthur and bowler Karashani Davis.
Oman: This is a team that is relatively unknown to most, they have been competing for many years and as such are well known as a batting side with two or three quality bowlers. Their fielding however is not the greatest. Having finished third in 2011 Division 3 tournament and just missing out on promotion to Division 2 they will be looking to improve by at least one spot for the promotion spot that previously eluded them. They can be a dangerous team capable of major upsets, but inconsistency is what has plagued them time and time again. Players to watch are batsman Zeeshan Masood and bowler Zeeshan Siddiui.
Nepal: This team comes into this tournament off the back of a rather successful T/20 tournament in Asia, with strong teams like Hong Kong, UAE, and Afghanistan. Nepal lost in the finals to Afghanistan, but to reach the finals alone proves that they are a team to watch coming into this tournament. Nepal qualified for the Division 3 tournament after finishing undefeated at the Division 4 tournament that was held, September 2012, in Malaysia. Then in October they reached the ACC Elite Cup finals where they played UAE and the match was tied with both teams scoring 241, thus both teams shared the cup. For the record UAE are a Division 2 team, thus showing the quality of this Nepal team that Bermuda will be up against. Players to watch for Nepal are batsman Paras Khadka and spinners Basanta Regmi and Shakti Gauchan.
This tournament as I have said in recent weeks will be one of the most evenly balanced tournaments ever. The difference between qualifying in the top 2 and not qualifying could come down to net run rate. Bermuda players will have to be extremely focused game by game, ball by ball. This is a tournament where every run could make a difference. Simply batting out the 50 overs and not being bowled all out, that extra five runs batting or that dive to stop four runs, could be the difference. In cricket games are often won or lost by one run, and this tournament seems to have that written all over it, on paper at least.
We need you the Bermuda public to come out in vast numbers to support our national team, and really give them a home team advantage. This way when it is all over we can be proud of our National cricket team and they can be proud of us.
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