PREVIEW: The followers of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 didn’t have to wait long for the tournament’s first upset – Scotland’s seven-wicket hammering of favourites Afghanistan, powered by Calum Macleod’s unbeaten 146-ball 157, threw Group B wide open on the opening day.
The home side Zimbabwe, on Tuesday, 6 March, will be hoping to capitalise on their biggest threat’s early troubles.
That said, Afghanistan will want to ensure the opening-day stumble remains just that – a stumble. They still possess one of the most feared sides in the tournament, and given their form heading in – apart from beating fellow heavyweights Windies by four wickets in the warm-ups, they also saw off Zimbabwe 4-1 in an ODI series in Sharjah last month – they remain one of the favourites to claim the two ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 spots up for grabs.
But the loss against Scotland posed some tough questions – did the stage, the sense of occasion, get the better of Afghanistan? Is captaincy a step too far for the 19-year-old Rashid Khan at the moment? Can this team handle heightened expectations?
Zimbabwe Playing XI: Cephas Zhuwao, Solomon Mire, Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine, Sikandar Raza, Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer, Brian Vitori, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani
Afghanistan Playing XI: Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Dawlat Zadran, Ihsanullah, Rashid Khan, Nasir Jamal, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Shapoor Zadran
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