Harare, March 24: The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 will have new winners on Sunday (March 25) when the West Indies and Afghanistan will face each other in the final at the Harare Sports Club.
This is the West Indies maiden appearance in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier after they failed to qualify directly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by finishing outside the top eight on the ICC ODI Team Rankings.
Afghanistan played in the qualifiers in 2009 in South Africa and finished fifth, but didn't compete in the 2014 qualifier after having progressed to the 2015 World Cup by virtue of finishing second to Ireland in the ICC World Cricket League Championship.
Sunday's winners will join Sri Lanka (1979), Zimbabwe (1982, 1986 and 1990), United Arab Emirates (1994), Bangladesh (1997), Netherlands (2001), Scotland (2005 and 2014) and Ireland (2009) to lift the silverware of one of the most competitive tournaments on the cricket calendar.
Both the Windies and Afghanistan have already qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, to be staged in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14, but Sunday's final is expected to be another cut-throat match for a number of reasons.
The Windies, two-time former world champions, are yet to beat Afghanistan in this tournament, having lost their warm-up match by 29 runs after Dawlat Zadran's hat-trick, while in the Super Six encounter, Afghanistan prevailed over the Caribbean side by three wickets following Mujeeb Rahman's three for 33 and Rahmat Shah's 68.
Rashid Khan, the world number-one ranked ODI bowler, is just one wicket away from becoming the fastest to 100 wickets. He presently has 99 wickets from 43 ODIs, while Mitchell Starc achieved the 100-wicket milestone in his 52nd ODI.
On a head to head, Afghanistan lead the Windies 2-1, while their one match in St Lucia was a no-result.