West Indies, along with Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe had failed to automatically qualify for the ICC World Cup Championship to be held in the UK in 2019, as they finished outside the top eight team rankings by the 30th September cut-off date.
Now these four teams will join Hong Kong, Netherlands, Scotland and Papua New Guinea to battle it out for the 2 remaining places in the ICC World Cup 2019 tournament. Ireland and Netherlands have been long long term rivals in the associate circuit and are placed together in Group A. They will take on each other at the Harare stadium on 4th March, the opening day of the qualifiers, and it needs to be seen which team can emerge victorious in their first round-robin match.
William Porterfield, the experienced top-order batsman will lead the side that consists of batsmen like Andy Balbirnie, Ed Joyce, Niall and Kevin O’ Brien, James Shannon, Paul Stirling and wicket-keeper batsman Gary Wilson, who add depth to the squad with their expertise and hard-hitting skills.
The bowling unit comprises of fast-bowlers Boyd Rankin, Tim Murtagh and Peter Chase while spinners like George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, all-rounders Paul Stirling and Kevin O’ Brien along with their captain Porterfield could try to outwit the Dutch in their opening game. The squad also has other bowlers like medium-pacers Barry McCarthy and Ed Joyce, who bring variety to the attack.
Ireland has earned test status in 2017 after their successful outings recently and were promoted to the ICC ODI championship in 2015 taking the number of teams to twelve. The team has been producing excellent results in the ODIs and could prove to be a tough unit to crack by the Netherlands here.
Peter Borren, the versatile all-rounder, will lead the side that consists of experienced batsmen like Wesley Barresi, Stephan Myburgh, Pieter Seelar, Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe, who have been performing well in recent outings both domestically as well as in T20 league matches across the world. Others like Ben Cooper, Sikander Zulfiqar and all-rounder Paul van Meekeran add depth to the squad and could come out all guns blazing to help their team dominate here.
The bowling unit has fast-bowlers Timm van der Gugten, Vivian Kingma, Fred Klaasen and Meekeran, who can try to stifle the Irish batsmen with their regular breakthroughs. The spin department has Max O’Dowd, Stephan Myburgh, Pieter Seelar and Roelof van der Merwe, who will bring their skills to the table and could prove to be a tough opposition. Others like Doeschate, Shane Snater, Zulfiqar and Ben Cooper bring variety to the attack.
Netherlands along with three highest finishing associate teams are slated to earn ODI status till 2022 and we could see them come out with their best foot forward to make it to the ICC World Cup.
Both Ireland and Netherlands have well-balanced sides with batsmen and bowlers who have been performing well recently and could give their team the edge to win here. While the contest could go down to the wire, we feel that Ireland with its hard-hitting batting line-up and fierce spin attack are better placed to win this round.