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Afghans sneak in as Scots, Zim tie a thriller

Newest Test nation stay afloat in World Cup qualifier while Scotland and Zimbabwe play out an "unbelievable" match

Afghanistan have kept their slim hopes of qualifying for next year's one-day international World Cup in the United Kingdom alive after Nepal recorded an upset victory over Hong Kong.

The Rashid Khan-led side, one of the pre-tournament favourites, looked all but out of the International Cricket Council's World Cup qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe late last week, prompting their "gutted" cricket chief Shafiq Stanikzai to apologise to fans.


But after beating Nepal on Saturday for their first win of the competition, Afghanistan snuck through to the Super Sixes stage on net run rate when Nepal beat Hong Kong by five wickets on Monday.

The surprise result also means Papua New Guinea, who were last week faced with the bizarre prospect of having incentive to throw their game against the Netherlands to have a shot at keeping their ODI status, may only now need to defeat Nepal on Thursday to retain it.  

The Netherlands, PNG, Nepal and Hong Kong each play two more matches to decide the standings for the 7-10 spots, with the highest among the latter three sides to be the 16th team to be awarded ODI status for the next four years. The Dutch have already gained ODI status.

Zimbabwe and Scotland will start the Super Six round with three points apiece, after a thrilling tie to close out Group B in Bulawayo.

Needing two runs from seven balls with two wickets in hand to chase down 211, the Scots lost two batsmen in as many legitimate deliveries, with a wide in between ensuring a tie.

Zimbabwe's Blessing Muzarabani has his woodwork rearranged // ICC
Zimbabwe's Blessing Muzarabani has his woodwork rearranged // ICC

"Unbelievable game of cricket, in the end it went all the way to the death. Pretty exciting stuff," said Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington.

"Obviously, from our point of view it is disappointing to get in that position, so close and not get over the line, obviously though we will take a point from it."

A five-wicket haul from Shafyaan Sharif and Michael Leask's 4-37 restricted the hosts to 210 all out, before Berrington's 47 took Scotland to 4-145.

But a clutter of wickets left the match delicately poised, and after Tendai Chatara had dismissed Mark Watt with the final ball of the penultimate over, Blessing Muzarabani bowled a wide before having number 11 Brad Wheal caught behind by Brendan Taylor.

Big-hitting opener Evin Lewis was among the runs as the West Indies made it four straight wins by beating the Netherlands in Harare on Monday, while Ireland joined them in the Super Six stage.

Lewis hit 84 as the two-time World Cup winners racked up 309-6 from 48 overs in a weather-affected match, with the rain coming for a second time with the Dutch well adrift on 167-6.

That left Jason Holder's Windies top of Group A, with Ireland progressing thanks to a 226-run thrashing of the United Arab Emirates.

Paul Stirling crashed a blistering 126 as the Irish posted 313-6 from only 44 overs, before skittling out the UAE for just 91.

Second Test wrap: Proteas surge back to level series

William Porterfield's men take two points through to the next round as the six remaining sides prepare to battle it out for the last two spots at next year's tournament in England and Wales.

The West Indies were already through to the next round, but played their strongest side against the Netherlands.

Chris Gayle was at his very best early on as the 38-year-old smashed five sixes in a 31-ball 46 before holing out off Paul van Meekeren.

Lewis continued where his opening partner had left off, before Marlon Samuels made a timely return to form with an unbeaten 73, while Rovman Powell crashed a quickfire 52 after making his maiden ODI hundred on Saturday.

The Netherlands were always behind the rate, and although key player Ryan ten Doeschate was still at the crease on 67 when the game was stopped, three earlier run outs had ended any chance of victory.