World Cup Qualifiers 2018

Gayle blitz floors UAE, Afghans lose again

West Indies cruise to victory, Zimbabwe win a thriller, and Scotland and Ireland each enjoy success


07 March 2018, 09:19 AM

Chris Gayle hammered his 23rd one-day international hundred to lead West Indies to victory in their opening World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

Windies opening batsman Gayle struck 11 sixes in a blistering 91-ball 123 in Harare as the two-time World Cup winners racked up 4-357 in their Group A clash, with the UAE falling 60 runs short.

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The 38-year-old became only the third batsman in ODI history after Hashim Amla and Sachin Tendulkar to score hundreds against 11 different countries.

After captain Jason Holder elected to bat first, Gayle quickly got into his stride alongside big-hitting youngster Evin Lewis in an opening partnership of 88.

Lewis fell for 31, but Shimron Hetmyer outdid even Gayle, plundering 127 to score his maiden international ton.

The UAE, who had beaten Papua New Guinea in their opening match, never threatened a famous run chase after slipping to 3-69, but an excellent unbeaten 112 from Rameez Shahzad carried them to a respectable 6-297.

Windies skipper Holder ensured his side got off to a winning start, taking 5-53 after fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell's day was cut short by injury.

Afghanistan dream in tatters

Afghanistan came into the qualifiers as favourites to qualify alongside the West Indies, but will now probably need five consecutive wins to have any chance of reaching a second straight World Cup.

With the defeats against Scotland and Zimbabwe set to count in the Super Six stage, should Afghanistan get there, their chances are all but over.

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Leg-spinner Rashid Khan and co put in a much-improved display with the ball as they limited Zimbabwe to 196 all out in Bulawayo.

Teenage stand-in captain Rashid took 3-38 to reach 90 wickets in ODIs, while 16-year-old fellow leg-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman finished with 3-49.

But Brendan Taylor's 89 and 60 from Sikandar Raza proved crucial as Zimbabwe won in dramatic fashion.

At 3-156 with almost 17 overs remaining, Afghanistan were cruising to victory, but the pressure proved too much as they lost six wickets for only 21 runs.

Last-wicket pair Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran dragged the Asian outfit to within four runs of their target heading into the final over, but Shapoor was caught behind off Brian Vitori to secure Zimbabwe's second win.

"The batsman played some irresponsible shots, because of which we lost the match," said Rashid.

"Lots of things to learn from it and hopefully in upcoming matches we will not repeat the mistakes.

"It is part of cricket and it happens."

Ireland, Scotland continue winning ways

Ireland and Scotland look set to challenge the West Indies and Zimbabwe for qualification, after both moved to the top of their groups.

Captain William Porterfield's 111 steered Ireland to a four-wicket win over Papua New Guinea, who had managed 235 thanks to a stunning 151 from opener Tony Ura.

Scotland survived a middle-order collapse to successfully chase down 92 to beat Hong Kong, with skipper Kyle Coetzer making 41 not out.

Click here for the World Cup qualifiers results, tables and upcoming fixtures