T20 World Cup Qualifier Playoffs: Teams fight for pride of place

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Bangladesh, Ireland, Scotland and Thailand register victories in their warm-up matches

Ireland team. © Getty Images

While Bangladesh and Thailand clash in the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier on Saturday (September 7), the remaining six teams will fight it out in the third, fifth and seventh place playoffs.

Papua New Guinea's incredible run in the tournament was broken by Thailand in a rather one-sided semi-final on Thursday (September 5). Their progress into the knockouts was easily one of the highlights on the event.

On the other side of the spectrum, Scotland's early ouster came as a shock to many, while Ireland's somewhat disappointing results have left a bitter taste in the mouth. With regards to Namibia, USA and Netherlands - it is fair to say that were unable to find their feet in the tournament.

As the tournament comes to a close, all these teams now have a chance to finish their campaign with a win, and potentially better their rankings.

3rd place playoff: Ireland v Papua New Guinea in Dundee

The most exciting match of the playoffs sees Ireland and PNG square off against each other. PNG enjoyed an outstanding run, pushing every team they faced, before faltering against Thailand. In the big semi-final, it seemed the pressure of the moment got to them, as they were unable to play with the freedom that had marked their style in the early stages of the tournament.

Come Saturday, there will be less focus, and therefore less pressure on the island nation as they go up against Ireland for a chance to finish third in the qualifiers. If they do manage to get over the line, it will be PNG's best ever finish in the history of the Qualifier.

PNG's standout players have been Sibona Jimmy and Brenda Tau, while Ravina Oa has been steady with the ball. The former has been exceptional with both bat and ball, and Tau's contributions with the willow were instrumental in PNG registering their early wins.

On the other hand, Ireland would be disappointed to miss out on finals. Their inability to capitalise when on top, cost them in the big game. Eimear Richardson and Laura Dealny aside, none of the players have shown consistency in their performances. Kim Garth, the right-arm pacer, has been dependable with the ball, but Ireland will be hoping that both she and Gaby Lewis can find their mojo with the bat.


5th place playoff: Scotland v Netherlands in Arbroath

The fifth-place playoff in the Qualifier is a tale of two contrasting teams taking on each other. Scotland, the hosts, were expected to at least reach the top four-stage. However, the loss to PNG in the second round of the league stage derailed their campaign completely. The hosts were unable to come back from the defeat, and their over-reliance on Kathryn and Sarah Bryce was exposed.

In all the doom and gloom, however, one big positive for Scotland has been the emergence of Katherine Fraser. The teenager has showed exceptional temperament with the ball, and incredible skills in the field as well. She in one player the hosts can certainly look to invest in heavily in the future.

Netherlands, on the other hand, were not expected to make the top four but what everyone did expect was the fight and doggedness to be on show. Only glimpses of the same were on show. They struggled to find a complete performance until they faced Namibia in their final league game.

On Thursday, Netherlands finally showed what they are capable of against USA in the playoffs day where they emerged victorious by nine wickets. Sterre Kalis, Heather Siegers and Silver Siegers have played a crucial role in Netherlands doing well to some extent.  The match-up between these two competitive teams promises to be a good one.


7th place playoff: United States of America v Namibia in Arbroath

The seventh-place playoff will see either USA or Namibia register their first win in the tournament. Both teams have had underwhelming tournaments, performing well below their potential.

While USA entered the competition as a potential dark horse - a team that could rattle a few cages - Namibia snuck it at the expense of Zimbabwe. Neither has appeared to yet be comfortable at this level yet. They have searched desperately for players to put their hands up - with the bat more so than with the ball.

For Namibia, Sylvia Shihepo has been impressive with the ball, while young Lisa Ramjit and Akshata Rao have given USA something to cheer about. With the bat, however, both have struggled to find a single batter to step up to the plate. For USA, however, they may have changed. Nadia Gruny, the 35-year-old opening batter scored the country's maiden T20I half-century against Netherlands in the previous game - it could be the start of something special.