cricket:image:1432376 [900x600]
cricket:image:1432376 [900x600] (Credit: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Guardians place reliever Sandlin on 15-day IL

Nepal

by Ashish Pant The year 2023 started with Nepal conjuring 12 miracles to make it to the ODI World Cup qualifiers and ended with them qualifying for the T20 World Cup for the first time in a decade. In the group stage of the World Cup Asia Qualifier, they beat Singapore and Malaysia and made it to the knockouts despite losing to Oman. In the semi-final, they met old foes UAE, who were entering the knockouts unbeaten. In front of a packed home crowd, Nepal restricted UAE to 134 for 9 and made it to the final with eight wickets and 17 balls to spare, which also confirmed their qualification for the T20 World Cup. They lost to Oman in the final in the Super Over, but their World Cup ticket was secured.

Key playersRohit Paudel was Nepal's leading run-scorer in T20Is last year, with 403 runs in 13 innings at an average of 50.37. The Nepal captain is also going into the T20 World Cup in prime form having scored 265 runs in four innings, which included a century and two fifties against a West Indies A side that had bowlers of international repute.

Dipendra Singh Airee, Nepal's highest run-getter in T20Is with 1626 runs in 56 innings, has had a stunning 12 months. Last year against Mongolia he broke the T20 record for the fastest fifty, getting there in just nine balls. More recently, he smashed six sixes in an over in a T20I against Qatar. Airee is also a handy offspinner. with 37 T20I wickets, and is an electric fielder to boot.

Kushal Malla, just 20 years old, holds the record for the second-fastest century in T20Is, getting there in 34 balls, against Mongolia last year. He had an excellent 2023 where he scored 402 runs in 12 innings at a strike rate of 193.26. Malla also bowls left-arm spin and has 19 wickets at an economy of 6.18 in T20Is.

Nepal in major tournaments This is Nepal's first T20 World Cup appearance since 2014. They made it to the 2023 ODI World Cup qualifiers last year, but couldn't make it to the main event. In 2023, Nepal also qualified for the Asia Cup for the first time in history but failed to register a win in two attempts.

Form guide* LWLWW

Squad Rohit Paudel (capt), Aasif Sheikh, Anil Sah, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Lalit Rajbanshi, Karan KC, Gulsan Jha, Sompal Kami, Pratis GC, Sundeep Jora, Abinash Bohara, Sagar Dhakal, Kamal Airee

Papua New Guinea

by Ashish Pant PNG booked their place in the 2024 T20 World Cup after going unbeaten through the 2023 East-Asia-Pacific Qualifier, sealing their berth with a game to go.

This will be their second appearance at the T20 World Cup. Ten members of the current squad played in the 2021 edition held in the UAE and Oman. Assad Vala remains captain and allrounder Charles Amini is his deputy. The bowling unit will be led by medium-pacer Norman Vanua, PNG's highest wicket-taker in T20Is.

Key playersTony Ura is one of PNG's most experienced batters and is coming into the World Cup on the back of fifties against Hong Kong and Nepal in a tri-series in Hong Kong in March. He is PNG's highest run-getter in T20Is overall and since the start of 2023, and was second on the run-scorers' list in the EAP Qualifier.

Charles Amini's all-round abilities will hold the key for PNG at the World Cup. He is third on PNG's run-getters' list (994 in 48 innings) in T20Is, behind Ura and Vala, and second on the wickets charts (47 in 48 innings), behind Vanua.

PNG in major tournaments In their only previous World Cup, in 2021, PNG were placed in a group with Scotland, Bangladesh and Oman in the first round but failed to win any of their three games.

Form guide* WLLWL

Squad Assad Vala (capt), Charles Amini, Alei Nao, Chad Soper, Hila Vare, Hiri Hiri, Jack Gardner, John Kariko, Kabua Morea, Kiplin Doriga, Lega Siaka, Norman Vanua, Semo Kamea, Sese Bau, Tony Ura

Uganda

by Firdose Moonda A former British colony with a substantial South Asian diaspora population (both before and after the Idi Amin dictatorship, during which Asians were expelled from the country), Uganda has a cricket history that comes from outside influence, but its present is home-grown. The majority of the current squad are Ugandan-born, developed in the sport through the schooling system and are now a pioneering generation of cricketers for their country. This is the first time a senior Uganda side will play at a World Cup, a feat that has not yet been achieved by the national football team.

Uganda qualified ahead of Zimbabwe via the Africa Qualifier tournament last year, where they beat Zimbabwe by five wickets and finished second on the seven-team points table. The only side they lost to were fellow qualifiers Namibia; they convincingly beat all other opposition, including their once-up-and-coming neighbours, Kenya.

Key players Frank Nsubuga began his cricket career 27 years ago (although official records have his first cap recorded in 2004), and at 43 he will be the oldest player at this T20 World Cup. He is heralded as one of the fittest members of the squad, who runs 10km before training and aims to sign off from the international game after this event.

Riazat Ali Shah, born in Gilgit, Pakistan, is Uganda's vice-captain, one of three batters in the side with over 1000 T20I runs, and one of their most reliable run-scorers. Riazat moved to Uganda when he was 16 years old but missed out on the next Under-19 World Cup because the logistics around his eligibility were not finalised. He was 20 when he debuted for Uganda in 2018, and is now one of their top performers.

Roger Mukasa and Simon Ssesazi are the other two Ugandans with more than 1000 T20I runs, and Ssesazi's brother, Henry Ssenyondo, is the country's leading T20I wicket-taker and six away from becoming the first Ugandan to 100 T20I wickets.

Uganda in major tournaments Uganda have never played at a cricket World Cup but have competed in several multi-team tournaments in Africa with a fair amount of success. They won last year's East Africa Cup in Rwanda with victories in 11 out of 12 games, and reached the semi-final of this year's African Games in Accra, where they lost to Namibia.

Form guide* LLLLL

Squad Brian Masaba (capt), Riazat Ali Shah, Kenneth Waiswa, Dinesh Nakrani, Frank Nsubuga, Ronak Patel, Roger Mukasa, Cosmas Kyewuta, Bilal Hassan, Fred Achelam, Robinson Obuya, Simon Ssesazi, Henry Ssenyondo, Alpesh Ramjani, Juma Miyagi

USA

by Hemant Brar They have qualified for the tournament by virtue of being co-hosts. This will be their first World Cup in any format. Wicketkeeper-opener Monank Patel will lead the side; Aaron Jones will be his deputy.

USA have not played a lot of T20I cricket recently. Before the five-match home series against Canada last month, which they won 4-0, their last T20I was in July 2022.

USA will face Canada once again in the World Cup opener in Dallas on June 1. India, Pakistan and Ireland are the other three teams in their group.

Key playersCorey Anderson, who played one ODI World Cup and two T20 ones for New Zealand, will turn out for USA this time. He made his USA debut against Canada last month and scored 28 and 55 in two outings. Anderson held the record for the fastest ODI hundred at one time, and USA will want him to roll the clock back to the form of that period.

Ali Khan, one of the biggest names in USA cricket, wanted to bowl as fast as Shoaib Akhtar when growing up in Pakistan. While that did not come to pass, he can land his yorkers at a decent pace. He has also been a regular in the CPL.

After the 2012 Under-19 World Cup, Ian Chappell compared left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, who represented India in that event, to Bishan Bedi, saying the youngster was ready for international cricket. Harmeet made his T20I debut for USA last month, scoring 34 not out off 17 balls and taking 4 for 18 against Canada.

USA in major tournaments They have never been part of a World Cup previously, though they did make it to the Champions Trophy in 2004. They came close for the 2022 T20 World Cup, when they won the Americas regional Qualifier the previous year, staying unbeaten throughout the tournament. But in the global Qualifier, with two spots to grab, they lost to Netherlands in the semi-final.

Form guide* WWWWW

Squad Monank Patel (capt), Aaron Jones, Andries Gous, Corey Anderson, Ali Khan, Harmeet Singh, Jessy Singh, Milind Kumar, Nisarg Patel, Nitish Kumar, Nosthush Kenjige, Saurabh Netravalkar, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Steven Taylor, Shayan Jahangir

*in last five games against teams featuring in the 2024 World Cup

Also read the team previews of Canada, Namibia, Netherlands, Oman and Scotland