Bengaluru, March 14: After an action-packed 20-match group schedule, the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 enters the business end from Thursday when sides in the Super Six stage will aim to finish in the top two to book their tickets to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
There will be plenty at stake in the play-off ranking matches when Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Nepal will fight for the last ODI status spot.
On Thursday, table-toppers and two-time former world champions West Indies will take on Afghanistan at the Harare Sports Club, while second-placed defending champions Scotland will take on bottom-placed United Arab Emirates in Bulawayo.
The Windies and Scotland will kick-off their Super Six journey with four and three carry-over points, respectively, as compared to the Asian sides' zero points following their losses against sides that progressed to the Super Six from their respective groups.
Business end of #CWCQ starts Thursday when @westindies take on @ACBofficials & @CricketScotland face @EmiratesCricket. On Friday, @ZimCricketv will meet @Irelandcricket. @CricketHK, @Cricket_PNG & @NepalCricket locked in fight for the last ODI status spot https://t.co/988Rxt29Ze pic.twitter.com/0wKJ4H509k— ICC Media (@ICCMediaComms) March 14, 2018
The Windies, thanks to their four points, will start as favourites but their performances in the group matches have been up and down. The UAE gave them a run for their money despite scoring 357 for four, the Windies slipped to 58 for four before achieving the 201-run target against PNG, recovered from 83 for five to 258 for eight against Ireland and then were behind the Netherlands on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method at one stage before the Dutch lost four quick wickets to eventually lose by 54 runs on the DLS Method.
However, captain Jason Holder said important thing for his side was to progress to the Super Six with maximum points.
"I think this is one box ticked," he said. "We have not only qualified but qualified going into the Super Six with four points - I think that was crucial coming in from the group stages.
"We've got Afghanistan first in the Super Sixes, and we know we have to win that game. I think everybody will be up for it, it's obviously a must-win game, a very important game," he said.
Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons minced no words in saying that his side now have a mountain to climb.
"It's been difficult from the time we lost the first game. We know how difficult it is now, but all we can do is what is in our hands and that is to win the three games. If we can win the three games, then we can put ourselves in a position and it's up to others to do what they do," Simmons said.