DUBAI: Afghanistan can reach the World Cup for the first time if they clinch back-to-back wins over Kenya in Sharjah tomorrow and on Friday.
With 15 points from 12 matches, Afghanistan are currently in fourth place in the eight-team World Cricket League.
Leaders Ireland, with 24 points, have already made sure of their place in the 2015 World Cup leaving the United Arab Emirates (18 points) and Afghanistan as the only two teams left in contention to grab the second and final automatic qualifying spot.
The UAE on Sunday defeated Namibia by 135 runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in their last group game to move into second spot in the table and eliminate third-placed Netherlands (also 18 points) from the direct qualification race by virtue of having won more matches.
Afghanistan now must beat Kenya in their remaining one-day internationals on October 2 and 4 to pick up maximum points and seize second spot from the UAE.
While the top two sides qualify automatically for the 2015 World Cup, being played in Australia and New Zealand, the bottom six teams in the World Cricket League will receive a second chance to advance at next year’s qualifier in New Zealand, when they will lock horns with Hong Kong, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Uganda for the final two spots in the flagship 50-over tournament.
On Sunday, the UAE’s Shaiman Anwar again led with the bat, with a knock of 57 making him the highest run-getter of the tournament (625 runs from 14 innings) and helping his side to a total of 215 all out.
Twenty-four year old Rohan Mustafa contributed 39.
In response, Namibia lost some early wickets and never recovered, with Mustafa following up his performance with the bat to claim three wickets for eight runs which helped dismiss Namibia for just 80.
“Winning and moving to second place was what we always wanted before the Namibia matches,” said UAE coach and former Pakistan fast bowler Aqib Javed. “Now we have to see what happens when Afghanistan play Kenya.”
Despite the importance of those clashes, Aqib doesn’t think he’ll be at the Sharjah stadium to watch.
“I’m not a good spectator,” he said. REUTERS