Afghanistan have embraced the favourites tag, but will not take any team lightly in Group B of the International Cricket Council World Cup qualifiers which will be played in Harare, Bulawayo and Kwekwe starting this weekend.
BY GARISH PHIRI
The Asians recently thrashed Zimbabwe 4-1 in a one-day international (ODI) series and they pose a threat to the hosts chances of qualifying to England Wales 2019.
However, despite such a dominant display, where they managed to bowl out Zimbabwe in four of the five matches, Afghanistan are not taking anything for granted as they head into the Group B matches.
Zimbabwe and Afghanistan will clash on March 6 at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, where both will be seeking a win that would enhance their chances of qualifying.
“It feels good to feel that we are the favourites (status) and we should also show it in the ground too it’s not just about showing it on paper and we should give 100%, believe in ourselves score and enjoy,” stand-in skipper Rashid Khan said yesterday.
“We have to take every game seriously no matter which team we are facing and we have to take it seriously like I said and make sure we get four wins.”
Khan said that the favourites tag will not affect them and they will take approach every match with the same attitude.
“There is no pressure in being fav, we will take each game as it comes and enjoy,” he said.
“We should finished with a 100% record from the first round, points will be handy in the next round, we have to take every match seriously we have to play good cricket throughout.”
Khan, who did well against Zimbabwe in the last series with the ball, is looking to continue from where he left.
“I performed well in the last series, but it’s in the past. We will try and get the positives from there into the qualifier. Hopefully we will take the form and momentum into the qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai will miss the start of the World Cup Qualifiers after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix, which is likely to see him out of action for up to 10 days.
He is likely to miss the crucial match against Zimbabwe, but the tourists will still be confident of winning that match.
The 30-year-old middle-order batsman has scored 1,565 runs at an average of 21.14 in 83 ODIs.
Afghanistan face West Indies and the Netherlands in warm-up matches today and Thursday respectively before their first CWCQ Group B clash against Scotland on 4 March.
Only two teams will qualify for the showpiece event that will take place in England next year.