After an action packed 20-match group schedule, the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 enters the business end today when sides in the Super Six stage will aim to finish in the top two to book their tickets to England next year.
There will also be plenty at stake in the play-off ranking matches when Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Nepal will fight tooth and nail for the last ODI status spot.
The highest-finishing Associate Member will join the Netherlands, who qualified last year for the new 13-team ODI League commencing in 2020 by winning the ICC World Cricket League Championship, and, Scotland and the UAE, who have retained their ODI status until 2022 by reaching the Super Six.
Today in the Super Six, table-toppers and two-time former world champions the Windies take on Afghanistan in front of broadcast cameras at the Harare Sports Club, while second-placed defending champions Scotland will take on bottom-placed the United Arab Emirates in Bulawayo.
The Windies and Scotland will kick-off their Super Six journey with four and three carry-over points, respectively, as compared to the Asian sides’ zero points following their losses against sides that progressed to the Super Six from their respective groups.
Tomorrow, at the Harare Sports Club, hosts Zimbabwe will square off against a dangerous Ireland.
Zimbabwe have carried three points into the Super Six following a victory over Afghanistan and a tied match against Scotland, while Ireland have moved ahead with two carry-over points following their 226-run victory over the UAE.
“I think this is one box ticked,” Windies captain Jason Holder said. “We have not only qualified but qualified going into the Super Six with four points — I think that was crucial coming in from the group stages.
“We’ve got Afghanistan first in the Super Sixes, and we know we have to win that game. I think everybody will be up for it, it’s obviously a must-win game, a very important game.”
Afghanistan had arrived in Zimbabwe with a lot of hope, expectations and promise, but coach Phil Simmons minced no words in saying that his side now had a mountain to climb.
“It’s been difficult from the time we lost the first game. We know how difficult it is now, but all we can do is what is in our hands and that is to win the three games. If we can win the three games, then we can put ourselves in a position and it’s up to others to do what they do,” Simmons said.
Defending champions Scotland, along with Zimbabwe, have been one of the consistent sides.
Led intelligently by Kyle Coetzer, Calum MacLeod has the highest individual score in the tournament to date, smashing 157 not out against Afghanistan, while fast bowler Safyaan Sharif is the second-joint leading wicket-taker along with Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza with 10 wickets.
l Windies v Afghanistan (S6), Harare Sports Club; Michael Gough and Ahsan Raza (on-field), Simon Fry (third umpire), Shaun George (fourth umpire), Graeme La Brooy (match referee)
l UAE v Scotland (S6), Queens Sports Club; Joel Wilson and Gregory Brathwaite (on-field), Paul Wilson (reserve umpire), David Jukes (match referee)
l PNG v Nepal (play-off), Old Hararians; Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid and Langton Rusere (on-field), Jeremiah Matabiri (reserve umpire), Devdas Govindjee (match referee)
l Netherlands v Hong Kong (play-off), Kwekwe Sports Club; Chris Brown and Adrian Holdstock (on-field), Iknow Chabi (reserve umpire), Shahit Wadvalla (match referee)
l Ireland v Zimbabwe (S6), Harare Sports Club; Simon Fry and Shaun George (on-field), Michael Gough (third umpire), Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid (fourth umpire), Graeme La Brooy (match referee)
Super Six points table
T P W L T PS NNR
Windies 2 2 0 0 4 1.120
Scotland 2 1 0 1 3 0.138
Zimbabwe 2 1 0 1 3 0.020
Ireland 2 1 1 0 2 1.851
Afghan 2 0 2 0 0 -0.154
UAE 2 0 2 0 0 -3.043