Afghanistan became the second team to qualify for the 50-over World Cup due to be held in England and Wales next year. Zimbabwe’s shock loss to the UAE yesterday meant the last Super-Six game between Ireland and Afghanistan was a virtual Quarterfinal. Batting first, Ireland could only post 7-209 in 50 overs thanks to the duo of Dawlat Zadran (2-54) and vile leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who scalped three wickets.
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Shahzad (54) and Naib (45) led the chase with an 86 run opening stand and just as the Irish shoulders were beginning to drop Simi struck. Shahzad’s dismissal triggered a mini-collapse but skipper Stanikzai along with Shenwari steadied the innings with a crucial 36 run partnership and although the latter got out for 27, a quickfire 17 from Zadran sealed the deal for Afghanistan.
The fight for the two elusive spots in the 2019 World Cup intensified during the course of a week when the Windies beat Scotland in a rain-marred encounter leaving three teams in contention for the remaining spot. Zimbabwe were then handed a shock defeat by the UAE, dashing thier hopes of making it to the marquee event. Now that Afghanistan have qualified on virtue of a win over Ireland, they will now face the Windies for the summit clash on Sunday, March 25.