Afghanistan’s National Cricket Team will take on Scotland in their opening Group B match on Sunday in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, in Zimbabwe’s Bulawayo.
Last month in Sharjah, Afghanistan sealed a five-match One-Day International series 4-1 against Zimbabwe, the tournament's host country.
Afghanistan will now be looking to carry the momentum into the qualifier under the captaincy of Rashid Khan.
Rashid will lead the side in the absence of Afghanistan’s regular captain Asghar Stanikzai, who recently had emergency surgery to remove his appendix.
The 19-year-old, will become the youngest captain in the history of international cricket, and is one of the players to watch in this tournament.
In the meantime, Phill Simmons, Afghanistan’s coach has said that his team is in Zimbabwe to win.
One day to go before a very important tournament for Afghanistan. Are you and the team excited or nervous, or nervously excited?
Simmons told ESPN that: “We are more nervously excited because of how important the tournament is, and because of where we want to be as a team. The nervousness comes from that. The excitement comes from just being in this competition.”
He admitted that the Afghanistan team is still a work in progress, even if the numbers tag them as a favourite to qualify for the main event in 2019.
“To correct one thing, we are not the favourites. The West Indies have to be the favourites because they are the big team. As I keep saying, there are other teams involved: you don't take Netherlands lightly, you don't take Ireland lightly, you don't take Zimbabwe lightly,” he said, adding that “You go far as down as not taking Nepal lightly. Having said that, the numbers are there. It is brilliant for players to have all those numbers. The numbers don't do much when we get to competition day.”
In a response to a question as to whether Rashid be the leader for the rest of the tournament and any update on the ill Asghar Stanikzai, Simmons said: “Stanikzai is a lot better, but we are not going to make a decision on him till Tuesday for the rest of the tournament. Rashid will lead in the first match.”
Afghanistan open their campaign against Scotland in Bulawayo on Sunday, ahead of further Group B matches with Nepal, Hong Kong and Zimbabwe.