There is all to play for in Namibia next month as the top two teams from ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 will qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 and will be just one-step away from England and Wales 2019.
Canada and Oman who secured promotion from the ICC World Cricket League Division 3 in May 2017 are joined by Kenya, Namibia, Nepal and the United Arab Emirates who get a second chance to qualify for the Zimbabwe event after finishing in the bottom four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-2017 that culminated in December 2017.
Canada have previously played in four ICC Cricket World Cups in 1979, 2003, 2007, 2011 and will be looking to make it a fifth. The team have toured Barbados as part of its preparation for the ICC WCL Division 2 and can draw on the experience of Nikhil Dutta and Hamza Tariq who both played in the Caribbean Premier League.
Oman have impressed throughout the qualification process starting in Division 5 and spectacularly climbing the ladder at every stage. During that time, Oman has also performed well in the ICC World Twenty20 qualification process.
Kenya who have been a regular feature in ICC Cricket World Cups most recently in 2011 will look to captain Rakep Patel to lead the way. Regarded as one of Kenya's finest cricketers at present with the bat; he has a best of 92 while his five for 16 runs against Hong Kong in Nairobi in November 2016 is his best return with the ball. Dependable seamer Nelson Odhiambo will seek to make an impact on the pace bowling attack in the tournament. Odhiambo has been the go to bowler when Kenya need wickets in the middle of innings, he has a habit of picking up wickets at crucial stages and setting up wins for Kenya.
Striving for participation in their third ICC Cricket World Cup, after 1996 and 2015 the United Arab Emirates have been competing in the tri-series in Dubai. It has provided valuable preparation for the team against tough opponents Ireland and Scotland, where they secured one victory against the Scots.
Namibia who last competed in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003 have been busy preparing in competition in South Africa. The team will look back to the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in 2015 where they claimed second spot as hosts and will hope to emulate that. Nepal who finished seventh in the ICC World Cricket League Championship with four wins from 14 matches will be aiming to improve on that to secure one of the two qualification spots to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
The 18-match tournament will take place across three venues in Windhoek, Wanderers, WAP and Trustco UNITED.
Canada captain Nitish Kumar said: “We have been training hard with team gym sessions and nets. We have also had a selection tour to Barbados where we got a chance to play four games. Next week, we will be heading to South Africa, where we will practice on turf and play some practice games leading up to ICC World Cricket League Division 2.
“I am very excited for the event, we have been working so hard, so I believe it is time to convert that into performances and get Canada back to where we were four years ago.”
Kenya captain Rakep Patel said: “Qualifying would be the culmination of a journey that started when the World Cricket League cycle begun. We are thankful to have another shot at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers. We are excited about proving to ourselves that we belong here.
“We have been having regular training sessions and we will play some warm-up games against Zimbabwe A before travelling to Namibia. Having played in the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, there is no bigger stage for a cricketer than the World Cup.”
Namibia captain Sarel Burger said: “Preparations have been going well, we are currently still busy in our Cricket South Africa competition in which we have been doing really well. We hope that we can carry this momentum into ICC World Cricket League Division 2. Players are understanding their roles in the team and players are taking more responsibility, so that is really exciting to see.
“Qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier is only the first step, but it would be the reward for exceptional hard work for a long period of time. This qualification process started a couple of years ago, it would be of huge benefit to cricket in Namibia if we were to qualify.”
Nepal captain Paras Khadka said: “ICC World Cricket League Division 2 will be like a royal rumble where every team will give their best in order to seal their places for next level. Therefore, this tournament means a lot to Nepal cricket.
“I am hopeful that we will get through this tournament as it is a stepping stone to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. We are excited that we are just two steps away from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.”
Oman captain Sultan Ahmed said: “Our preparations have been playing practice matches locally and against the USA at home, which we won 3-0, and against Hong Kong in the UAE, which we won 2-1. We are all looking forward to the ICC World Cricket League Division 2.”
UAE captain Rohan Mustafa captain, said: “The players are very excited to be given this opportunity to compete against such quality teams over a short timeframe. I have every confidence that we will do well in this tournament.
“It would be a fantastic achievement for us to qualify; it would a great morale boost for the team, as well as be a positive boost for the UAE’s cricketing future.”
Canada: Nitish Kumar (captain), Bhavindu Adhihetty, Cecil Pervez, Dhanuka Pathirana, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Hamza Tariq, Srimantha Wijeyeratne, Junaid Siddiqui, Nicholas Kirton, Navneet Dhaliwal, Nikhil Dutta, Dilon Heyliger, Saad Zafar, Satsimranjit Dhindsa
Kenya: Rakep Patel (captain), Collins Obuya, Gurdeep Bhagat, Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Nelson Odhiambo, Shem Ngoche, Hiren Varaiya, Nehemiah Ngoche, Emmanuel Ringera, Lucas Ndandason, Rushabhvardhan Patel, Alex Auma, Karan Kaul
Namibia: Sarel Burger (captain), Jean Milner Bredenkamp, Stephan Baard, Petrus Jacobus Burger, Merwe Gerhard Erasmus, Jan Nicolaas Frylinck, Zane Edward Green, Jean-Pierre Kotze, Lohandre Louwrens, Bernhard Scholtz, Johannes Smit, Louis van der Westhuizen, Christoffel Viljoen, Craig Williams
Nepal: Paras Khadka (captain), Gyanendra Malla, Sharad Vesawkar, Basant Regmi, Shakti Prasad Gauchan, Sompal Kami, Anil Kumar Sah, Rohit Kumar Paudel, Karan KC, Md. Arif Sheikh, Sandeep Lamichhane, Dipendra Singh Airee, Dilap Nath, Lalit Bhandari
Oman: Sultan Ahmed (captain), Aaqib Ilyas Sulehri, Ahmad Fayyaz Butt, Ajay Vrajlal Lalcheta, Swapnil Sunil Khadye, Bilal Khan, Khawar Ali, Muhammed Nadeem, Muhammad Naseem, Zeeshan Maqsood, Jay Viram Odedra, Jatinder Singh, Vaibhav Shridhar Wategaonkar, Kaleemullah Kaleemullah
United Arab Emirates: Rohan Mustafa (captain), Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed, Ghulam Shabbir, Rameez Shahzad, Muhammad Boota, Muhammad Usman, Adnan Mufti, Shaiman Anwar, Ahmed Raza, Imran Haider, Qadeer Ahmed, Muhammad Naveed, Muhammad Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan
The match officials are:
Match Referee - Dev Govindjee
Mentor Umpire - Langton Rusere
Umpires - Claude Thorburn, Kalidas, Alex Dowdalls, Sarika Prasad, Buddhi Pradhan, Akbar Ali Khan, Tabarak Dar and David Odhiambo
8 February: Kenya v UAE (Wanderers); Nepal v Namibia (WAP); Oman v Canada (Trustco UNITED)
9 February: UAE v Canada (Wanderers); Nepal v Oman (WAP); Kenya v Namibia (Trustco UNITED)
10 February: Rest/Reserve
11 February: Namibia v Oman (Wanderers); Kenya v Canada (WAP); UAE v Nepal (Trustco UNITED)
12 February: Kenya v Nepal (Wanderers); UAE v Oman (WAP); Namibia v Canada (Trustco UNITED)
13 February: Rest/Reserve
14 February: Nepal v Canada (Wanderers); UAE v Namibia (WAP); Kenya v Oman (Trustco UNITED)
15 February: Final (Wanderers); 3rd v 4th Playoff (WAP); 5th v 6th Playoff (Trustco UNITED)