MATCH 1 MALTA (MAL) v BELGIUM (BEL) 0730 GMT | 0930 CET | 1300 IST
MAL Last Five Matches: L L W W NR (Avg Score For 168, Avg Score Against 174)
BEL Last Five Matches: L W W W W (Avg Score For 168, Avg Score Against 128)
Captain: Bikram Arora
Wicketkeeper: Heinrich Gericke
Projected Top Four: Bikram Arora, Heinrich Gericke, Samuel Mangat Stanislaus, Varun Prasath Thamotharan
Projected Opening Bowlers: Washeem Abbas, Ashok Bishnoi
Spin Options: Amar Sharma, Bikram Arora, Samuel Mangat Stanislaus
MALTA Key Players:
Heinrich Gericke, hugely-talented wicket-keeper batsman was the top run getter against Bulgaria in 2020, racking up 114 runs in two innings at a strike rate of 158.33 including a best score of 91. He was in good touch in the recently concluded FanCode ECS Malta, plundering 142 runs at a staggering SR of 245.
Varun Prasath Thamotharanhas been in tremendous form of late. The left handed all-rounder was the deserved MVP in the recent FanCode ECS Malta, mustering 351 runs at a strike rate of 204 and picking up SIX wickets. He also amassed 558 runs in the T20 Malta Cricket League at an average of over 50, including back-to-back centuries.
Ashok Bishnoiwill be making his international debut for Malta following an outstanding performance in the recently concluded FanCode ECS Malta. The right arm medium pacer was the leading wicket taker grabbing 20 wickets at an economy of under six runs an over including the second best ECS figures ever of 6-3.
Amar Sharma, bowls tidy off spin and handy middle order batsman. The all-rounder is also the vice-captain. Has a genuine knack of picking up cheap wickets. Picked up 13 wickets at FanCode ECS Malta 2021 and also was leading wicket taker in the T20 Malta Cricket League, picking up 18 wickets at an economy of just 6.14.
Samuel Mangat Stanislaus, MVP at European Cricket Series Malta last year, racking up 339 runs at an average of about 68 and SR of 182. The talented all-rounder also piled up 425 runs in theT20 Malta Cricket League. He is capable of playing the big shots and can be an anchor if needed.
Captain: Shaheryar Butt
Wicketkeeper: Syed Jamil
Projected Top Four: Syed Jamil, Muhammad Muneeb, Hadisullah Tarakhel, Wahidullah Usmani
Projected Opening Bowlers: Ashiqullah Said, Murid Ekrami
Spin Options: Nemish Mehta, Shaheryar Butt, Muhammad Muneeb
BELGIUM Key Players:
Shaheryar Butt, the Belgium captain has mustered 294 runs in seven matches and holds the international record of highest individual score batting at number six when he scored a blistering 125* off 50 balls vs Czech Republic in Aug 2020. He continued his impressive run in European Cricket Series Capelle racking up a total of 138 runs.
Wahidullah Usmani, the 32-year old batsman has scored 122 runs in four games with a best score of 72 against Czech Republic. He hit 12 fours in that innings which is the 12th most in a T20I innings.
Khalid Ahmadi, right arm fast bowler, he is quick and accurate, bowls deadly yorkers and is economical more often than not. Has picked up SIX international wickets in four matches at an economy of hust 4.93. The 26-year old also featured for United CC Girona at European Cricket Series Barcelona last year, picking up EIGHT wickets in five matches at an ER of 5.90.
Ashiqullah Said will lead the Belgium attack. The right-arm fast bowler has impressive numbers in international cricket picking up 11 wickets in seven matches at an economy rate of just 5.37 including a best return of 3-15.
Saber Zakhil, the all-rounder has racked up 160 runs and picked up SIX wickets in the international scene. Played for Beveren CC in European Cricket Series Belgium last summer making an impact against Mechelen Eagles picking up 3-8 and scoring 27 off 23 balls.
Belgium take on hosts Malta in a much anticipated bilateral series which was postponed in April. The two teams played their last respective international fixtures almost a year ago. The vast majority of the Maltese players have enjoyed decent match practice from the recent FanCode ECS Maltaand will also benefit from home advantage. On the other hand, the Belgians might struggle initially, but do have the quality and talent to turn things around quickly after some time in the middle.
Match Prediction: Malta to make the running in the series opener.