Underdog PNG's World Cup dream on track
Surprise package Papua New Guinea face the biggest test of their Cricket World Cup ambitions today, as they take on cricket's perennial second-tier kings, the Netherlands, in New Plymouth.
The Pacific nation have two victories from their two encounters so far in the World Cup qualifiers being played around New Zealand to top Pool B. Last Monday's eight-wicket win over Kenya was the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
Victory over the Netherlands at Pukekura Park today will see Papua New Guinea through to the Super Six stage of qualifying.
The two highest-ranked teams after the Super Six stage - who go through to the tournament final - gain direct entry into next year's World Cup, held in New Zealand and Australia.
Leg spinner Charles Amini and seamer Raymond Haoda will be key with the ball for Papua New Guinea today. The Dutch possess one of the tournament's best batting orders, headlined by big hitters Wesley Barresi and Kiwi-born Peter Borren.
Namibia are also unbeaten in pool B, but wait until Tuesday for their next clash, against Uganda in Mt Maunganui.
Kenya and Uganda are both without victory in the tournament, and both must win at the Mount today to keep their hopes alive of a Super Six appearance.
United Arab Emirates are emerging as the front-runners in Pool A, with victories over Nepal and Canada. They play Scotland in Queenstown today, and a win will seal a spot in the Super Six stage. Batsman Shaiman Anwar has been a stand-out performer for the Emirates, scoring 109 against Nepal, and should take delight in a Scottish bowling attack that has underwhelmed this far in New Zealand.
Meanwhile today, Hong Kong will play Nepal in Rangiora. Hong Kong are also unbeaten in Pool A, with upset wins over Scotland and Canada, and should coast to a third against the Nepalese.
Sunday Star Times