Afghanistan earn di­rect qual­i­fi­ca­tion in 2020 T20 world Cup

The Miracle - - Pakistan/sports - Source: Cricinfo

Only 18 months since their pro­mo­tion to Full Mem­ber­ship, Afghanistan have se­cured a di­rect place in the main group stage of the 2020 T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia by virtue of be­ing in the top eight of teams in the ICC rank­ings at the 2018 cut-off date. Afghanistan’s pro­gres­sion up the T20I rank­ings cor­re­sponds with a slip down the or­der for Sri Lanka, who cur­rently sit in ninth place on 87 points. It means the 2014 world cham­pi­ons will have to go through the open­ing round of the tour­na­ment in or­der to reach the “Su­per 12s”, where teams will be split into two groups of six for round-robin play. The 2020 for­mat means Sri Lanka will need to fin­ish in the top two of a four-team group in the open­ing round in or­der to ad­vance to the Su­per 12s. “It is a bit dis­ap­point­ing that we have not been able to en­sure a di­rect Su­per 12s berth but I’m con­fi­dent that we will do well in the tour­na­ment,” Sri Lanka T20I cap­tain, La­sith Malinga, told the ICC. “Hav­ing played three fi­nals and win­ning once, it is nat­u­ral that ev­ery­one ex­pected us to fin­ish in the top-eight but we have to take the op­por­tu­nity in the ex­tra matches of the group stage and pre­pare well for the knock-out matches.” The 2020 tour­na­ment will mark the first time that Afghanistan won’t have to go through a qual­i­fy­ing round in or­der to reach the main phase of the T20 World Cup, now dubbed the “Su­per 12s”. They went a per­fect sev­en­for-seven in T20Is in 2018, in­clud­ing a 3-0 sweep of Bangladesh, to move up to eighth on the rank­ings ta­ble, five points clear of Sri Lanka in ninth and 15 points above Bangladesh in 10th. This left Shakib Al Hasan say­ing: “We have not se­cured a di­rect Su­per 12s berth but I’m con­fi­dent that we will do well in the tour­na­ment by go­ing through the group stage. “We are a side ca­pa­ble of beat­ing the best on our day and I see no rea­son why we can’t go far in the tour­na­ment. There is still some time and we will use it to be at our best for the T20 World Cup.” Afghanistan qual­i­fied for the first time in the West In­dies in 2010 af­ter beat­ing Ire­land in the fi­nal of the T20 World Cup Qual­i­fier in UAE ear­lier that year. They sub­se­quently qual­i­fied again in 2012 for a then 12-team event and also reached the open­ing round of the 2014 tour­na­ment but fin­ished be­low both Nepal and even­tual open­ing-round group win­ners Bangladesh. Af­ter fin­ish­ing fifth in the qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in 2015, they went 3-0 in the open­ing round of the 2016 tour­na­ment in In­dia, in­clud­ing a re­sound­ing win over im­babwe, to ad­vance to the Su­per 10s main draw. They knocked off even­tual cham­pi­ons West In­dies for their sec­ond win over a Full Mem­ber at the event and have con­tin­ued a grad­ual rise up the T20I rank­ings since. Afghanistan’s pro­gres­sion also means that im­babwe will have to go into the T20 Global Qual­i­fier for the first time just to earn a spot in the open­ing round of the T20 World Cup. Along with Ire­land, it will also mark the first time that Full Mem­bers are a part of the qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment. It fol­lows a new ap­proach from the ICC in which Full Mem­bers are no longer guar­an­teed a spot in World Cups by virtue of mem­ber­ship sta­tus. The 2018 ODI World Cup Qual­i­fier also fea­tured Full Mem­bers for the first time as West In­dies, Ire­land, Afghanistan and im­babwe had to com­pete against six As­so­ci­ates in or­der to se­cure a spot in Eng­land. West In­dies and Afghanistan clinched the only two berths avail­able, mean­ing Ire­land and im­babwe will be­come the first two Full Mem­bers to not take part in a World Cup in 2019. In ad­di­tion to Ire­land and im­babwe, four As­so­ci­ates have been fast-tracked into the T20 Global Qual­i­fier by virtue of their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the open­ing round of the 2016 T20 World Cup: Scot­land, Nether­lands, Hong Kong and Oman. They will be joined by eight other As­so­ci­ates who will ad­vance from five re­gional qual­i­fi­ca­tion fi­nals (Africa, Amer­i­cas, Asia, East Asia-Pa­cific, Eu­rope) to take place in the first half of 2019. The 14-team T20 Global Qual­i­fier is ex­pected to take place in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber this year at a venue yet to be de­ter­mined. The top six teams at that tour­na­ment will join Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the open­ing round in Aus­tralia.

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