World Cup Qualifiers 2018
Shahzad suspended as Afghanistan stumble
Fan favourite suspended for aggressive reaction to dismissal and will miss two must-win games at World Cup qualifier event
AAP & Cricket Network
8 March 2018, 09:50 AM AEST
Cult hero Mohammad Shahzad has copped a two-match ban for on-field misconduct as Afghanistan's hopes of qualifying for next year's one-day international World Cup hang by a thread.
Just three months after returning from a one-year doping ban, Shahzad was suspended for two matches for an aggressive reaction to his dismissal in Afghanistan's two-run defeat to Zimbabwe in the ICC's World Cup qualifier event on Tuesday.
The big-hitting wicketkeeper slammed his bat against the pitch next to the main wicket after being dismissed for 24 in his side's second straight defeat.
Shahzad reached four demerit points over the last two years after being found guilty of "abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings", the ICC confirmed Wednesday.
The opening batsman will now miss Afghanistan's next two must-win Group B matches against Hong Kong on Thursday and Nepal on Saturday.
It is a huge blow for the Rashid Khan-led side, who were expected to qualify for next year's tournament in England and Wales.
Shahzad shot to prominence during the 2016 World T20 as much for his antics as his ability (though he did impress with the latter as well) as Afghanistan surged into the Super 10s stage and upset eventual champions West Indies.
The 30-year-old only returned to action last December after serving a ban for taking a weight-loss product.
Shahzad's sanction was one of many from the high-stakes tournament being held in Zimbabwe.
Teenage leg-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was fined 50 per cent of his match fee and given three demerit points for throwing the ball "in a dangerous manner" towards Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor in Tuesday's game.
The 16-year-old contested the charge, but was found guilty on Wednesday morning.
Wicketkeeper Taylor, who made a crucial 89 in Zimbabwe's total of 196, was also fined 15 percent of his match fee for dissent after complaining about an lbw appeal that wasn't given late on in the tense encounter.
Hong Kong batsman Nizakat Khan was fined and handed three demerit points for barging into Scotland bowler Alasdair Evans during his side's four-wicket defeat.
Four matches get underway simultaneously on Thursday. West Indies take on Papua New Guinea, Netherlands face the UAE, Scotland play Nepal while Afghanistan will look to turn around their fortunes against Hong Kong.