Afghanistan stays on course for ICC World Cup

Dubai, March 9 (IANS) Afghanistan is on course for a place in the ICC World Cup 2015 after winning both its fifth round One-Day Internationals (ODI) in the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship against Scotland at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Afghanistan beat Scotland by seven wickets in the first ODI Wednesday and then made it two out of two Friday by winning the second ODI by five wickets. The double-win means that Afghanistan joins Scotland on 11 points and both sides now share second position on the WCL Championship table.

The top two sides will qualify for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The final two positions in the flagship event will then be determined at the World Cup Qualifier, which will be staged in New Zealand in 2014.

Afghanistan's final two round matches are against Namibia and Kenya while Scotland will play Kenya and Ireland. Both sides will need to win all four matches in the remaining rounds to keep their automatic qualification hopes alive.

With so much riding on each match, both Afghanistan and Scotland will be closely following the forthcoming WCL Championship matches between UAE and Ireland, Namibia and Netherlands, and Kenya and Canada to be played over the next month.

A 2-0 win by Ireland will see the table-topper move to an almost unassailable 17 points, and leave four teams in the hunt for the crucial second position.

Reverting to the Afghanistan-Scotland ODIs, former captain Nawroz Mangal stole the limelight in his side's seven wicket victory Wednesday while it was a total team effort Friday that steered Afghanistan to a five wicket win.

The WCL Championship features the top eight Associate and Affiliate teams - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland and the UAE - and is a seven-round competition that provides direct qualification opportunities for the World Cup.

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