The ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2023 culminated on Sunday, July 9. The tournament, which was hosted in Zimbabwe, saw Sri Lanka and the Netherlands qualify for the mega event later in the year in India.
The two qualifying teams faced each other in the finals of the World Cup Qualifiers earlier on Sunday. The strong Lankan outfit defeated the Dutch by a healthy margin of 128 runs in Harare.
10 teams took part in the tournament, six of which were associate nations. Out of those countries, six teams qualified for the ‘Super Six’, namely, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, Scotland, Zimbabwe, the West Indies, and Oman.
West Indies, however, were the biggest disappointment from the competition as they finished fifth on the table, with only one win in five games at the ‘Super Six’ stage. Zimbabwe and Scotland, meanwhile, played exciting cricket all through the tournament but failed to book their tickets to India due to an inferior Net Run Rate (NRR).
The 12th edition of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers saw nerve-racking moments and clashes throughout the campaign. A few standout performances will also linger on in people’s minds.
On that note, let’s take a look at our best playing XI from the recently-concluded ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2023.
Openers – Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne
The Sri Lankan duo of Pathum Nissanka and Dimuth Karunaratne opens the batting for this team. Both the star players played an integral part and led their side from the front.
Nissanka ended the tournament as the second-highest run-getter with 417 runs at an excellent average of just below 70. His partner, Karunaratne amassed 369 runs at an average of 61.50.
Middle-order – Brandon McMullen, Sean Williams (c), Sikandar Raza
The middle-order of this team will feature the likes of Brandon McMullen, Sean Williams, and Sikandar Raza. While McMullen was certainly the best young player of the competition, Williams and Raza played according to their reputations and took Zimbabwe deep into the tournament.
McMullen, who batted at No. 3 for Scotland, started the tournament with an amazing fifer against Ireland, before hitting his maiden ODI ton a game later against Oman.
However, his best performance came in a must-win encounter against the Netherlands when he mustered his second century of the competition. Unfortunately, his ton went in vain as Scotland narrowly missed out on the qualification spot.
McMullen ended the campaign with 364 runs at an average of 52 alongside 13 wickets at an immaculate economy rate of under five.
At No. 4 is none other than Sean Williams, who was also adjudged as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ for his heroics with the bat right through the campaign.
The Zimbabwean left-hander was imperishable, as he scored 600 runs at a mind-boggling average of 100.00. He started the tournament with a century against Nepal before recording 91 against the Dutch. Two games later, the 36-year-old broke every record in his world-class knock of 174 off 101 balls against U.S.A.
Alongside Williams, there was Sikandar Raza, who continued to deliver for Zimbabwe and once again had a terrific impact as an all-rounder. Raza slammed 325 runs at an amazing average and strike rate of 65 and 112.49, respectively. With his off-spin, Raza took nine wickets, including a four-wicket haul.
Lower Middle-order – Nicholas Pooran (wk), Bas De Leede, Wanindu Hasaranga
The West Indies suffered a new low after they lost to the likes of Scotland, the Netherlands, and Zimbabwe on their way out of the competition. However, one player, who did his best was Nicholas Pooran.
The flamboyant hard-hitting left-hander smashed 350 runs at a phenomenal average of 70.00 and at a strike rate of above 116. Pooran went on to hammer two centuries. He will also keep wickets for this team.
At No. 7 is Netherlands’ Bas De Leede. Son of former Dutch pacer Tim De Leede, Bas powered his nation to the ultimate World Cup 2023 after his gallantry effort against Scotland.
The 23-year-old all-rounder first took a five-wicket haul, before single-handedly guiding his side to victory with his superb knock of 123 off 92 balls.
He finished the campaign with 285 runs and 15 wickets at an economy of just over 5.50.
Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga was expected to shine in the tournament, and most certainly he did! The wily leg-spinner, who has an art of spinning his web around the opposition batters, took 22 wickets at an average of below 13 and at an economy of just 5.13.
Hasaranga’s 22 wickets is now the most by any spinner at a single ICC Men’s World Cup Qualifier.
Bowlers – Maheesh Theekshana, Richard Ngarava and Chris Sole
The three specialist bowlers in this team will be Maheesh Theekshana, Richard Ngarava and Chris Sole.
In partnership with Hasaranga, Theekshana proved to be a menace for batters as the mystery spinner claimed 21 wickets at an immaculate bowling average of 12.19, which is the best average by any bowler in this edition.
Zimbabwe’s Ngarava and Scotland’s Sole will be the two pacers spearheading this XI. Ngvara has been the most improved bowler for his side in recent times. The right-armer took 14 wickets at an average of just below 20 and at an economy rate of 4.74.
Sole, meanwhile, was also impressive with his rapid speeds for Scotland. The 29-year old even touched 150 kmph in the tournament, taking a total of 11 wickets at an immaculate economy of only 4.67.
BEST XI OF ICC WORLD CUP 2023 QUALIFIERS
Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Brandon McMullen, Sean Williams (c), Sikandar Raza, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Bas De Leede, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Richard Ngarava and Chris Sole