The Sunday Mail
The journey to the United Kingdom for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup begins today as Zimbabwe Cricket hosts the official opening of the qualifiers.
The ceremony will be held at Rainbow Towers in Harare this evening, welcoming all ten nations due to do battle for the two remaining slots at next year’s cricket jamboree.
The qualifiers run from March 4 to 25 in Harare, Bulawayo and Kwekwe.
Zimbabwe’s road to the UK will see them come up against Nepal, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland in the group stage.
The Chevrons will be aiming for a 10th World Cup appearance, and The Sunday Mail Sport looks at the country’s record against each of their Group A opponents.
Nepal is Zimbabwe’s first opponent next Sunday at Queens Sports Club in a List A match since the South Asians do not have ODI status.
It’s the first meeting between the two sides and Nepal find themselves in Zimbabwe’s way after their dramatic last ball win over Canada in their final game of the World Cricket League Division 2 tournament; the same game that propelled them to the ICC-Cricket World Cup qualifiers.
Nepal will be aiming for a maiden appearance at the Cricket World Cup having only tasted the World T20 in Bangladesh in 2014.
Afghanistan and Zimbabwe’s clash at Queens Sports Club on March 6, and the two teams have met in 24 ODIs since 2014.
This could be a tricky encounter as the Asians have won 15 of those encounters, giving Zimbabwe a 37,5 percent success rate.
Afghanistan are targeting their second appearance at the World Cup after playing in the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand.
The Chevrons match with Hong Kong will be the first between the two nations in this format, with the only prior meeting been a World T20 first round clash in Nagpur, India, in 2016.
Zimbabwe prevailed by 14 runs over their opponents, who should not be taken lightly as they once stunned Bangladesh in a World T20 match in 2014.
Zimbabwe’s last group match is against Scotland at Bulawayo Athletic Club on March 12.
It will be a third ODI meeting between these two teams after their first ever series produced Scotland’s first ODI win over a full member team in June 2017.
That series finished 1-1 in Edinburg.
Scotland have been to the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1999, 2007 and 2015.
The 10-team tournament will see the top two finishers qualify to the ICC-Cricket World Cup in 2019.
The top three teams in Zimbabwe’s group and the top three from Group A – comprising West Indies, Ireland, the Netherlands, UAE and Papua New Guinea – will progress to the Super Six stage.
In the Super Six phase, each team will play three matches against sides they didn’t play in the group stage.
Points won in the group stages will be carried over to the Super Six phase except those won against the bottom two from each group.
The two finalists will book a place at the 2019 World Cup.
The Netherlands (ICC World Cricket League Championship winners) and the three highest finishing Associate Members will be awarded ODI status until 2022.
Entry to all 34 matches will be free.