World Cup Qualifiers 2018: Scotland finished in the top four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship last year and will take on Afghanistan
The round-robin matches will see the top three teams from each group progress to the Super Six stage, wherein the finalists will be chosen for the World Cup 2019. Scotland needs to defend the title they won in New Zealand way back in 2014 when they defeated UAE to make it through; and they will be eager to start their campaign with the win. Afghanistan, on the other hand, has emerged as a strong contender after having earned test status last year. It needs to be seen which team can overcome challenges here to win this match.
Spinner Rashid Khan will don the captain’s hat in Stanikzai’s absence in the beginning of the tournament and he brings tremendous experience as a bowler. The batting line-up include Ihsanullah, Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi in the top-order while middle-order players like Samiullah Shenwari, Nasir Jamal and Najibullah Zadran could steady the innings under crunch situations.
The bowling unit has pacers Gulbadin Naib, Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran who provide the left-right combination and can be effective against the Scots here. Spinners like Nabi, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Shenwari, Rashid Khan, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Najibullah Zadran and Mujeeb Ur Rahman could prove to be a tough challenge for the opponents as they could break partnerships easily.
Afghanistan has done well in recent years to get promoted to the ICC ODI Championship in 2015, and they will be eager to impress the world with their talents. With a precision spin attack and a variety of pacers as option, the team could prove to be a top runner in this qualifying series.
Top-order batsman Kyle Coetzer will lead the side that consists of players like Richie Berrington, wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Cross, Michael Jones, Michael Leask, opener George Munsey, Calum MacLeod, Craig Wallace and youngster Tom Sole, who can keep the scoreboard ticking to build a good foundation.
Bowlers include pacers Alasdair Evans, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Brad Wheal and Stuart Whittingham, who could provide quick breakthroughs while spinners like Mark Watt, Michael Leask and Michael Jones add variety to the attack. All-rounders like Berrington, Coetzer, MacLeod and Munsey could help dismiss the opponents, and they will be well-placed to bring in options that could surprise the Afghanis here.
Overall, Scotland is a strong unit that has earlier won this title, and they will have a boosted morale going in to their first contest. If they can strategize well against the Afghani spinners, then surely Scotland can look ahead to a good performance on Sunday.
World Cup Qualifiers 2018 Prediction
Afghanistan has several experienced match-winners on their side who are in good form currently and can outwit the Scots. Scotland too has a well-balanced unit with all-rounders and specialists, who could help dominate here. While the match could swing either way, we feel that Afghanistan with its recent winning streak is better placed to emerge victorious.
Winner: Afghanistan, 1.17 @ WilliamHills