1996 champions Sri Lanka and two-time winners the West Indies have been drawn in opposing groups for the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier that will take place in Zimbabwe between June 18 and July 9.
The ICC revealed the fixture for the crucial three-week tournament on Tuesday, with the West Indies drawn in Group A alongside tournament hosts Zimbabwe, European side the Netherlands, emerging Asian nation Nepal and the ever-improving USA.
Shai Hope’s charges will need to be at their best if they are to book a spot at this year’s ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, with only the top-two sides from the 10-team tournament earning a ticket to the 50-over showcase in India at the end of the year.
Zimbabwe and the Netherlands will be familiar opponents for the West Indies with those three teams all progressing to the Qualifier courtesy of their finishing position during the inaugural ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, while Nepal and the USA earnt their spot via League 2 play and the recent Qualifier Play-off respectively.
Sri Lanka also face daunting opponents in Group B in Zimbabwe, with the island nation scheduled to play matches against Ireland, Scotland, Oman and the UAE.
Sri Lanka finished in 10th place on the Super League standings – one spot behind the West Indies – and will be looking for a top-two finish in Zimbabwe to ensure they maintain their excellent record of having participated in each edition of the World Cup.
The West Indies too have been to all 12 editions of the World Cup, while Zimbabwe are the next most successful side at the qualifier having participated in nine tournaments to date.
Nepal, USA and Oman have never made it through to the World Cup and will be looking to book their first appearance via a top-two finish at the qualifier.
ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice believes the 10 teams in Zimbabwe are very evenly matched and is looking forward to a tight contest between all sides.
“The countdown to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 is entering the final stages and this event presents an incredible opportunity for teams to earn a place in the pinnacle event of one day cricket. The stakes don’t get any bigger in what will be a very competitive event enjoyed by fans looking to see who will join the eight teams that have already booked their tickets to India,” Allardice said.
“With two former Men’s Cricket World Cup champions among the contenders as well as emerging cricket nations who are aiming to qualify for the first time, this unique event, featuring teams from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe will be a showcase of the global game.” Each team will play four matches during the group stage of the qualifier, with the top three sides from each group then progressing through to the Super Six stage.
All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group.
Teams will then play a further three matches against sides from the opposing group during the Super Six stage, with the top two teams at the completion of the Super Six stage earning a place in the World Cup and the qualifier final in Harare on July 9.