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Afghan boss apologises for World Cup qualifying debacle

  • Published at 10:00 am March 9th, 2018
  • Last updated at 11:32 am March 9th, 2018
Afghan boss apologises for World Cup qualifying debacle
A "gutted" Afghanistan cricket chief Shafiq Stanikzai apologised to fans on Thursday after the team's shock defeat by Hong Kong left their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup all but over. After losses to Scotland and hosts Zimbabwe, new Test side Afghanistan's hopes were hanging by a thread, but they collapsed to 195-9 in pursuit of 242 to beat Hong Kong, with rain ensuring a 30-run defeat on DLS method. Victory for Hong Kong in either of their two remaining Group B matches against Scotland and Nepal would ensure Rashid Khan's much-fancied Afghan outfit cannot even reach the Super Six stage. "Gutted, frustrated and extremely sorry for whatever happened in the ICC cricket World Cup qualifier," Stanikzai wrote on Twitter. "But #Bluetigers, u r still the heroes of the nation thank u for whatever u did till date to the nation. "Sorry beloved nation but we will come strong InnshaAllah." Mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 16, took 3-26 with Mohammad Nabi also claiming three scalps as Afghanistan restricted Hong Kong to 241-8, but they lost regular wickets in the chase. Tailender Dawlat Zadran struck a spirited unbeaten 40, but it was too little, too late as Afghanistan's dreams of reaching a second straight World Cup were left in shreds in Harare. Scotland became the first team to book their spot in the next round after beating Nepal by four wickets to make it three wins from three. But captain Kyle Coetzer, who hit a match-winning 88 not out in Bulawayo, slammed the ICC's controversial decision to cut the number of teams in the World Cup from 14 to 10 as "crazy". "Never underestimate the power & quality of associate cricket, @CricketHK beat & knock out favourites @ACBofficials from the #WCQ2018, after qualifying through #wcl2," he posted on Twitter. "UAE beat Holland the 13th ODI team & #wcl2 @NepalCricket showed lots of skill today vs us! A reduced WC is crazy!" Another triumph for the Scots in their final group game against Zimbabwe would leave them well-placed to claim one of the last two slots for next year's World Cup in England and Wales. An excellent unbeaten 99 from captain Jason Holder led the West Indies to a six-wicket win against Papua New Guinea, after the two-time World Cup champions had slipped to 58-4 while chasing 201 for a second consecutive victory in Group A. Ireland, who did not play on Thursday, remain top of the table on net run rate, while the United Arab Emirates look set to progress after a six-wicket win over the Netherlands. Rohan Mustafa took 5-26 and Chirag Suri managed an unbeaten 78 as the UAE sealed a crucial victory over the Dutch -- four-time World Cup participants. "I think it was a very, very invaluable win for us. We know the magnitude of this win, so I am really, really happy I could contribute to the winning performance," said Suri. Brief Scores: Scores from 2019 World Cup qualifying in Zimbabwe on Thursday: Group A At Harare Papua New Guinea 200 all out in 42.4 overs (Assad Vala 57; Carlos Brathwaite 5-27) v West Indies 201-4 in 43 overs (Jason Holder 99 not out) -- West Indies won by six wickets Netherlands 176 all out in 46.3 overs (Rohan Mustafa 5-26) v United Arab Emirates 177-4 in 44 overs (Chirag Suri 78 not out) -- United Arab Emirates won by six wickets Group B At Bulawayo Hong Kong 241-8 in 50 overs (Anshuman Rath 65; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 3-26, Mohammad Nabi 3-48) v Afghanistan 195-9 in 46 overs (Ehsan Khan 4-33) -- Hong Kong won by 30 runs (DLS) Nepal 149 all out in 47.4 overs (Paras Khadka 63; Stuart Whittingham 3-35) v Scotland 153-6 in 41.3 overs (Kyle Coetzer 88 not out) -- Scotland won by four wickets Points Table: Tables from 2019 World Cup qualifying after Thursday's matches Group A (games played, won, lost, points, net run rate) Ireland 2 2 0 4 1.093 West Indies 2 2 0 4 1.030 United Arab Emirates 3 2 1 4 0.224 Papua New Guinea 3 0 3 0 -0.770 Netherlands 2 0 2 0 -1.358 Group B (games played, won, lost, points, net run rate): Scotland 3 3 0 6 1.160 -- qualified Zimbabwe 2 2 0 4 1.180 Hong Kong 2 1 1 2 -0.838 Afghanistan 3 0 3 0 -0.312 Nepal 2 0 2 0 -1.695 -- Top three teams from each group qualify for the Super Six stage, with points gained against fellow qualifiers carrying over