USA Cricket’s Road to World Cup Qualifiers 2023

USA Cricket’s Road to World Cup Qualifiers 2023

CWC Qualifier Overview

The 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier is all set to be held in Zimbabwe starting from June 18. The matches will be played primarily in 4 different venues across Harare and Bulawayo. Here are some of the listed venues are – 

  • Harare Sports Club
  • Takashinga Cricket Club
  • Queens Sports Club
  • Bulawayo Athletic Club. 

A total of 34 matches will be played between June 18 and July 9 where 10 teams will compete for a spot in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup scheduled to take place in India later this year. The Qualifier will be split into two groups which will comprise 5 teams each. USA is placed in Group A along with West Indies, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, and Nepal. Group B will include Sri Lanka, UAE, Oman, Ireland, and Scotland. Dates and fixtures have been announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC) ahead of time. Prior to the commencement of the Qualifier tournament, USA is slated to play its first warm-up game against Ireland on June 13. They will play another warm-up match against Sri Lanka on June 15 before proceeding to the group matches.

USA will play all their group matches at Takashinga Cricket Club in Harare. They will get a first sense of their real encounter on June 18 when they take on the mighty West Indies. A couple of days later on June 20, USA will square off against Nepal. On June 22, they will clash with the Netherlands, and on June 26, they take on the hosts Zimbabwe which will be the last league stage match for them. If USA endures a successful run in their league matches, then they will progress to the play-off stage which will commence on June 29 and end on July 9. 

As we gear up in anticipation, let us take a closer look at how well the USA cricket team is prepared ahead of their do-or-die CWC Qualifier clash.

USA Squad Analysis (Past Record, Top Players, Head-To-Head)

On May 26, USA Cricket (USAC) announced a 15-member squad that will tour Zimbabwe for the upcoming CWC Qualifier tournament led by Monank Patel. Corey Anderson and Unmukt Chand have been left out.

Here is what the current squad looks like: Monank Patel (c), Aaron Jones (vc), Abhishek Paradkar, Ali Khan, Gajanand Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Kyle Philip, Nisarg Patel, Nostush Kenjige, Saiteja Mukkamalla, Saurabh Netravalkar, Shayan Jahangir, Steven Taylor, Sushant Modani, Usman Rafiq 

Past Track Record (Performance in World Cup Qualifier Play-off)

USA has played some good all-round cricket off late leading up to the 2023 CWC Qualifier. They emerged on top during the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-Off which was held in Namibia this year. They won 4 out of 5 games against Namibia, UAE, Papua New Guinea, and Jersey to claim the top spot in the points table. Ali Khan scripted a magical performance of 7/32 against Jersey to propel USA all the way to the 2023 CWC Qualifiers. In that game, Steven Taylor, Gajanand Singh, and Jessy Singh put up some vital runs to take USA to a face-saving total of 231. Realizing that the target was insufficient, Ali Khan had his task cut out and realized that he had to pull something out of the ordinary to steer his side to the ICC Qualifiers. What followed next was a sensational performance from him where he single-handedly dismantled the Jersey batting lineup to seal the World Cup Qualifier Spot.

USA even succeeded in thumping the hosts Namibia by a massive margin of 80 runs in their opening game. Gajanand Singh’s all-round contribution of 53 (63) and 1/13 helped USA get over the line quite easily at the end. But he was not the only standout performer who starred during the match. It was Ali Khan again along with Nisarg Patel who shared 6 wickets between them and went for just under 3.5 runs per over to skittle Namibia for a paltry score of 151. 

They registered another landslide victory against Papua New Guinea on April 2 when they bowled them out for a shambolic score of 118. It was their bowling again which helped them earn a well-deserved victory over PNG. Ali Khan, Nisarg Patel, and Gajanand Singh were the pick of the bowlers for US who bagged 9 wickets in total to derail the PNG chase. 

However, they faced a stiff challenge against UAE when they were required to chase down a highly competitive target. US bowlers had a rare off-day in that game which allowed UAE to post a daunting target of 280. After the openers fell, Saiteja Mukkamalla took stock of the situation and registered a scintillating century of 120 (114) which featured 11 boundaries. His match-winning innings allowed US to clinch an emphatic 5-wicket victory with just one over to spare. 

Their only defeat in the World Cup Qualifier Play-off came against their neighbor Canada when they shockingly collapsed for 172 whilst chasing a relatively small total of 199. After putting up a brilliant show with the ball, USA had a relatively small target to chase against a less battle-hardened Canadian side. But the USA innings never got going as wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals and eventually lost their momentum during the chase falling well short of their desired target.

Top Players To Watch Out For

Monank Patel, Gajanand Singh, and Steven Taylor have been the highest run-getters for US in recent times. In 39 ODI matches, Monak has an impressive average of 38.66 with over 1200 runs. He has the best individual score of 130 which he registered against Oman in 2022. Ganjanand Singh has scored 734 runs in 26 matches at a stunning average of 33.36. He registered his career-best performance of 66 against Namibia this year which led USA to a resounding victory. Steven Taylor has over 1300 runs in ODI cricket. He played a swashbuckling knock of 114 (123) in the 2022 Cricket World Cup League 2 match against Nepal which ended in a nail-biting tie. 

Saurabh Netravalkar, Ali Khan, and Nisarg Patel have been the most impactful bowlers for USA off late. Saurabh is currently the highest wicket-taker with 67 wickets under his belt at a staggering average of 21.28. Ali Khan is in the form of his life and has picked up 30 wickets in ODI cricket at a jaw-dropping average of 14.6. His experience in T20 franchise cricket will really give the US the much-required winning edge coming into this tournament. Nisarg Patel has picked up 40 wickets at an average of 27.2 and has a brilliant economy rate of 4.57. 

Head-to-head Overview

USA played their maiden ODI match back in 2004 against New Zealand and since then played a total of 45 ODI matches to date out of which they managed to win 22 of them while two others ended in a tie. USA will be locking horns with Ireland, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, and Nepal in the group stage and warm-up games of CWC Qualifier 2023. 

Ireland and USA have never played against one another. They were expected to play a 3 -match ODI series back in 2021 but all of them were canceled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Ireland is now a test-playing nation and have come a long way as a team. Facing them will be an enormous challenge for the US team. Their win record against Nepal isn’t really promising either. Out of 6 matches played US has only managed to win 2 of them with one game ending in a contentious tie. It will certainly be a battle to watch out for as both sides will be jostling to inch ahead in the Qualifiers. US are yet to face Sri Lanka and West Indies yet in ODI but getting past them will be a tall order to fill for the young US team who are beginning to find their feet in competitive cricket. 

USA and Zimbabwe haven’t come head-to-head in ODI cricket yet. The two nations played their only T20I in the 2022 T20 World Cup Qualifier where they were brutally thrashed by Zimbabwe triumphed in a one-sided fashion. A similar fate awaited them in that same Qualifier when they lost their only T20I match to the Netherlands by 7 wickets which eventually ended their 2022 World Cup dreams. 

What’s next?

It is fair to conclude that a lot of hard work lies ahead of the USA cricket team. They will need to be very well prepared to face their adversaries as they are about to challenge some of the best teams in the CWC Qualifier most notably West Indies and Sri Lanka. It must be said that USA Cricket has put in some serious efforts to get to this stage. For the first time since 2009, USA managed to make it to the ICC World Cup Qualifier and they must back their instinct and relish this challenge to go the extra mile. They have a tough task ahead that is for sure. But there is also a growing sense of optimism that the national team will be able to land some astonishing feats and turn some heads in the upcoming 2023 CWC Qualifier. 

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