World T20 Day Five Preview: Zimbabwe or Afghanistan to become the first preliminary qualifier

After the rain ruined any chance of exciting action on day four, the host nation will be praying that it stays away for the conclusion of the first pool.

World T20 Day Five Preview: Zimbabwe or Afghanistan to become the first preliminary qualifier
Zimbabwe and Afghanistan faced off in an ODI series last year (photo: Crictracker)

Zimbabwe and Afghanistan will pit their 100% records against one another as they bid to become the penultimate team to qualify for the T20 World Cup main event on Saturday, with Scotland and Hong Kong facing off in Group B's dead-rubber.

Zimbabwe - Afghanistan

Naturally starting with the first, and most important, game of the day, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan will take part in possibly the biggest game of the preliminary rounds so far. 

They've both won two out of two so far, and looked fairly impressive doing so. The winner will enter Group 1 of the main tournament, alongside Sri Lanka, South Africa, England and West Indies. That group is considered the easier of the two, so there's added incentive of a potential scalp for whoever wins tomorrow. Should the game be a draw, Afghanistan will progress, as they have the superior net run-rate.

Zimbabwe actually got the tournament up and running, all the way back on Tuesday, beating Hong Kong by 14 runs. Vusi Sibanda got 58 as the favourites posted 158-8, and he's a player that the Afghan side will be looking to get out early come Saturday. Batting first once more in their second game of the tournament, they posted 147/7 for Scotland, who were bowled out for 136, sealing another win.

Sibanda raises his bat after scoring 50 on the opening day (photo: AFP)
Sibanda raises his bat after scoring 50 on the opening day (photo: AFP)

Afghanistan also started their campaign with a 14 run win over Scotland, the British side narrowly edged out, being denied a first ever tournament victory. Hong Kong were brushed aside by the Afghan's on Thursday, as the overwhelming favourites won by six wickets after restricting their opponents to 116-6.

Who do you make favourites to go through? You'd probably have to say Zimbabwe, given their quality and experience at this level of cricket, but given the progression of the Afghanistan side in recent years, you just never know.

Scotland - Hong Kong

Disappointed to have only lost their first two games by the slimmest of margains, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Scotland will have little to play for against Hong Kong, who have also lost all their games so far.

However, there is a certain level of motivation for them, as they chase their first victory at this level of an international tournament. It looked like they were going to do it against Zimbabwe after openers Kyle Coetzer and George Munsey started brilliantly, and they'll be hoping to do the same on Saturday.

Australia born Ryan Campbell, 44-years-old, became the tournament's oldest player when starting the first game against Zimbabwe, and he's someone the Scots will have to keep an eye out for. Jamie Atkinson is another, as he showed his talent with an impressive half-century in the opening game.

It's a tough one to split, but the Scottish team should have enough to send their fans home with something of a smile on their faces.

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