Afghanistan qualify for World Cup

Saul Bowman
March 28, 2018

Afghanistan continued their giant strides in global cricket by qualifying for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England with a thrilling five-wicket win against Ireland in the final Super Six encounter of qualifiers, here.

Zimbabwe is playing host to the 2018 Cricket World Cup qualifier matches.

In the 34th and final match of the tournament on Sunday, Afghanistan beat the West Indies by seven wickets with a competent display in the field and with the bat to lift the prestigious silverware.

Legspinner Rashid Khan claimed 3-40 to become the fastest bowler to reach 100 one-day worldwide wickets.

Afghanistan batsman Mohamad Asghar, right, celebrates after beating Ireland to qualify for the World Cup.

But once Shahzad holed out, Afghanistan, who only squeezed into the Super Sixes after losing to Scotland, Zimbabwe and Hong Kong, began to wobble. Even Afghanistan cricket chief Shafiq Stanikzai apologised to fans for team's debacle.

Afghanistan's fairy-tale run in the qualifier resembled that of Pakistan's and Australia's successes in the 1992 and 1999 World Cups. They not only showed their magic against the Windies in the Super Six, but in other matches.

West Indies star Chris Gayle capped a poor personal tournament as he was dismissed for only 10 by 16-year-old leg-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who finished with 4-43.

The West Indies lacked intensity in the final and batting first failed to make the most of their starts. On a head to head, Afghanistan lead the Windies 2-1, while their one match in St Lucia was a no-result.

"This trophy is a painful reminder of the dreams we had. Thanks for your prayers and support throughout the tournament", Rashid said after qualifying for the ICC event.

"I feel sorry for Scotland how it ended for them".

They seem to forget that what's ahead are cricket's best.

Now Simmons is heading back to the ICC World Cup but this time with Afghanistan and said he would be working on a few surprises with his Asian outfit over the next few months in preparation for the 50-overs showpiece next year.

Then, moulded by the dramatic events of the tournament thereafter (read Zimbabwe-UAE clash), they were given a chance to play a winner-takes-all contest against Ireland and seemed set to canter to victory before taking an agonisingly longer route to delirium.

"Afghanistan played a really good tournament, especially coming from where they were in the group stages", Holder said.

Rovman Powell top scored with 44 from number 7 but each of the top five got into double figures but only Shimron Hetmyer (38) got past 30.

Following Shahzad's dismissal, Ireland tightened the screws around Afghanistan and were rewarded with quick wickets of Rahmat Shah (12), Gulbadin (45) and Mohammad Nabi (12) as Afghanistan reached 151 for four in 40 overs, needing 59 off the last 10 overs.

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