Nepal did a massive favour to Afghanistan when they beat Hong Kong by five wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe, which meant Afghanistan's hope for a spot in next year's World Cup is still alive as they moved on to the Super Six despite losing their first three matches, thanks to better net run-rate.
Along with the Afghans, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates reached the Super Six stage from Group B to join defending champions Scotland, two-time former world champions the West Indies and hosts Zimbabwe, who have qualified from Group A.
Also, the result in the group stages mean, Windies will carry maximum four points in the Super Six stage, Ireland two and the UAE zero, while Zimbabwe and Scotland will carry forward three points apiece and Afghanistan none. So, Afghans need to win almost all their Super Six games to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Following the completion of the Super Six, the top two teams in the point's table will complete the qualification process and play the final game.
Furthermore, following the conclusion of the group matches in this edition of the World Cup qualifier, Scotland and the UAE have retained their ODI status for the next four years until 2022, while the third Associate Member team to keep the ODI status will be confirmed following the seventh to tenth position play-offs. The Netherlands have already qualified for the new 13-team ODI League commencing in 2020.
Super Six and Playoff fixtures:
Thursday, 15 March:
West Indies v Afghanistan at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
UAE v Scotland, Queens Sports Club (Super Six)
PNG v Nepal at Old Haraians (Playoff)
Netherlands v Hong Kong at Kwekwe Sports Club (Playoff)
Friday, 16 March:
Ireland v Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
Saturday, 17 March:
7th/8th play-off at Kwekwe Sports Club;
9th/10th play-off at Old Hararians
Sunday, 18 March:
Ireland v Scotland at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
Monday, 19 March:
West Indies v Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
Tuesday, 20 March:
UAE v Afghanistan at Old Hararians (Super Six)
Thursday, 21 March:
West Indies v Scotland at Harare Sports Club ((Super Six)
Friday, 22 March:
UAE v Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
Friday, 23 March:
Ireland v Afghanistan at Harare Sports Club (Super Six)
Sunday, 25 March:
About the Author
Sandipan Banerjee is a Kolkata-based independent cricket journalist by profession and admirer of this great sport by nature. He tweets at @im_sandipan.