Papua New Guinea (PNG), Philippines and Vanuatu will compete for a spot in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Qualifier as the first of five T20 World Cup regional finals gets underway.
Only 25 teams remain from the 68, which started the regional qualification process for the T20 World Cup 2020 in February 2018. Eight of those 25 teams from Africa, America, Asia, EAP and Europe Finals will join Hong Kong, Ireland, Netherlands, Oman, Scotland and Zimbabwe in the T20 World Cup Qualifier between October 11 and November 3 this year in the United Arab Emirates.
"It means so much to be hosting this tournament. We have worked really hard on our game, the fielding, the batting, and the bowling and looking forward to going out there and showing what we can do. We can't control the weather but we are preparing the best we can and we will be focused and ready to go when the tournament starts," ICC quoted PNG captain Assadollah Vala, as saying.
Vanuatu captain Andrew Mansale said: "It would be a big boost for cricket in Vanuatu if we were able to qualify to the next stage. The Vanuatu people support cricket and follow us around the world so it would be great to reward them for their support. We're looking forward to playing good cricket against two good teams and testing our skills. We've worked hard over the last few years for this opportunity and we're ready."
"Qualifying at this next level would be a dream come true not only for myself and the players but for the coaching staff, sponsors, PCA administrators, and the entire Philippine nation. We are hoping to build on the momentum from our success in Manila and are looking to inspire a new generation of Filipino cricketers. We have supporters in the Philippines and all over the world and we want to play in a spirit that does them proud," Philippines captain Jonathan Hill said.
The T20 World Cup EAP Final which is being hosted in Amini Park, PNG has been impacted by the effects of a tropical storm in the area in recent days and has seen severe unseasonal rainfall.
This has significantly hampered on ground preparations, as a result, first day's play between PNG and Vanuatu, and PNG against the Philippines was abandoned without a ball bowled. The Philippines are scheduled to meet Vanuatu on March 21 at the same venue.
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