Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], January 16 (ANI): The ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 commences at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday as Bangladesh, Kenya, Malaysia, Scotland and Sri Lanka vie for the lone remaining slot at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham.
The round-robin T20 tournament to decide who joins the seven teams already qualified for Birmingham - Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa - commences with a match between Bangladesh and Malaysia and will see Bangladesh and Sri Lanka face off on the last day.
England and six other highest-ranked ICC Members in the Women's T20I Team Rankings as of April 1 2021 qualified directly for the Commonwealth Games, with the slot for the West Indies going to Barbados since athletes from the Caribbean will be representing their countries and not the West Indies (as they are affiliated with the ICC).
Barbados were nominated by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on the basis of their win in the 2019 CWI T20 Blaze Tournament.
Women's cricket will be part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever in what is seen as a huge opportunity to take the game to new fans. It will only be the second time that cricket will feature in it after a men's competition was part of the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Bangladesh captain Niger Sultana has the chance of leading her team into the Birmingham Games to cap a fine year that has already seen them qualify for the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in March-April.
"We are very confident. It was not easy for us to return to competitive cricket after the disruptions of training and matches because of Covid-19. However, we are well prepared now, having played in different conditions during the past few months," Nigar Sultana said in an ICC release.
"I think our middle-order batting has been excellent in recent times. As this is a T20 tournament, I am expecting the opening batters to get us off to quick starts. We have experienced campaigners to compliment the youthful exuberance in our team. It's going to be a combined effort from all of us if we do well here," she added.
Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu feels it is vital for their team to win the tournament after having missed qualifying for the 50-over World Cup.
"Apart from the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games (cricket competition) is the other major tournament to be held in 2022. Obviously, it won't wipe out the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup but will give us some amount of solace," said Athapaththu.
"We have a very good chance of winning this tournament and qualifying for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We have experienced players as well as talented youngsters in our side, with the likes of Harsitha Samarawickrama and Kavisha Dilhari the ones to look out for," she added.
Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce understands that it won't be easy for her team but is still aiming to win the Qualifier.
On the other hand, Kenya captain Margaret Ngoche wants to make the most of the opportunity of playing against teams like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. (ANI)