Windies begin in a strong position, while Afghanistan can’t afford any more slip ups.
Thrilling finishes? Check.
Big hundreds and match-winning bowling performances? Check.
Superhuman catches? Check and check!
And so, after 20 exciting matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, we have our Super Sixes line-up.
While Windies, Ireland and UAE have made it from Group A, Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan are the teams from Group B.
15 March: Match 1, Afghanistan v Windies, Harare Sports Club
15 March: Match 2, Scotland v UAE, Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
16 March: Match 3, Zimbabwe v Ireland, Harare Sports Club
18 March: Match 4, Ireland v Scotland, Harare Sports Club
19 March: Match 5, Windies v Zimbabwe, Harare Sports Club
20 March: Match 6, Afghanistan v UAE, Old Hararians Sports Club
21 March: Match 7, Scotland v Windies, Harare Sports Club
22 March: Match 8, Zimbabwe v UAE, Harare Sports Club
23 Match: Match 9, Afghanistan v Ireland, Harare Sports Club
The aim of all teams is to finish in the top two, thus ensuring qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
UAE and Scotland, by making it to this stage, have confirmed one-day international status for themselves for the next cycle.
The points factor
The teams carry points from their wins over other members from the same group into the Super Sixes. So Windies, who were undefeated in their group, have the advantage of four points and are already leading the table.
Zimbabwe and Scotland, neck and neck all through the group stage, played out a tie in their final match. They come into this stage with three points each.
That leaves the door slightly open for the likes of Afghanistan. Starting out as one of the tournament favourites, they’ve had a rough time, only fortuitously squeezing into the Super Sixes after being one of three teams with one win in Group B. They carry no points, and will have to win all their matches to give themselves a chance of finishing in the top two.
Ireland have two points, and as the No.12 ranked ODI side, have the tricky proposition of facing sides ranked 10th, 11th and 15th. But as we’ve seen before in this tournament, when the underdogs punch above their weight, anything can happen.
UAE, also on zero, will be looking to spoil a few plans of the bigger teams.
Match in focus
Windies v Afghanistan – The first match of the Super Sixes stage could well decide Afghanistan’s fate. If they lose this match, they’ll have to be resigned to watching the World Cup from the comfort of their sofas at home. Windies have looked an imperious side, determined to win every match, and they’ll want to waste no time in cementing their lead in the table. However, their top order has shown chinks, and Afghanistan, itching for a shot, will be sure to exploit their weakness.
Player to watch
Rashid Khan is hurting. He’s admitted that very little has gone right for Afghanistan. Now that they’ve got an unexpected chance, they’ll want to come out fighting, and the stand-in captain will have to lead the way. He’ll have to rediscover the form that took him to the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Rankings for bowlers. He’s shown a willingness to try unconventional moves, such as handing himself a promotion up the order.
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