AFGHANISTAN scraped into the Super Six Stage of the ICC World Cup Qualifier after Nepal defeated Hong Kong by five wickets in Bulawayo on Monday.
In their Group B clash, Hong Kong were bowled out for 153 in 48.2 overs with mystery spinner Sandeep Lamichhane finishing with superb figures of 3-17 from his 10 overs.
In reply, Nepal were in deep trouble at 66-5. Lower order batsmen Rohit Kumar (48) and Sompal Kami (37) shared an unbeaten 89-run partnership to clinch a consolation win for Nepal, who exited the Qualifier with three defeats and one win.
Afghanistan, pre-tournament favourites but with just one win from four matches, were tied on two points along with Nepal and Hong Kong. However, they made the cut for the Super Six stage as they are the only team among the three with a positive net run rate (0.038).
The road ahead will only get tougher as Afghanistan won’t carry any points into the Super Six stage. The top two teams in the World Cup Qualifier qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
In Group A, Ireland and West Indies are through, with Netherlands needing a win against the latter to overhaul United Arab Emirates.
Ireland easily brushed aside the challenge of the UAE in Group A of the World Cup qualifiers in Harare, Zimbabwe to book their place in the second round Super Six stage of the competition, winning by a huge margin of 226 runs.
Put into bat having lost the toss, Ireland hammered the UAE in a match reduced to 44 overs because of rain, with openers William Porterfield (92) and Paul Stirling (126) creating a new record opening stand of 205 for Ireland.
Ireland face games against Scotland, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan in the second phase of the tournament with their first tie against Scotland this Friday, followed by games against Afghanistan on Sunday, 18 March, and Zimbabwe, on Friday 23 March