Chris Gayle hammered his 23rd one-day international hundred to lead the West Indies to victory in their opening World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, while Afghanistan collapsed to defeat by Zimbabwe.
Windies opening batsman Gayle struck 11 sixes in a blistering 91-ball 123 in Harare as the two-time World Cup winners racked up 357-4 in their Group A clash, with the UAE falling 60 runs short.
Afghanistan’s hopes of taking one of the last two places for next year’s tournament in England and Wales are hanging by a thread, after following Sunday’s shock loss to Scotland with an agonising two-run defeat by the hosts.
Afghanistan came into the qualifiers as favourites to qualify alongside the West Indies, but will now probably need five consecutive wins to have any chance of reaching a second straight World Cup.
With the defeats against Scotland and Zimbabwe set to count in the Super Six stage, should Afghanistan get there, their chances are all but over.
“The batsman played some irresponsible shots, because of which we lost the match,” said stand-in Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan.
“Lots of things to learn from it and hopefully in upcoming matches we will not repeat the mistakes.
“It is part of cricket and it happens. These are the things that we learnt and hopefully will not repeat in the future.”
Elsewhere, Ireland and Scotland both made it two wins from two by seeing off Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong respectively.
Ireland and Scotland look set to challenge the West Indies and Zimbabwe for qualification, after both moved to the top of their groups.
Captain William Porterfield’s 111 steered Ireland to a four-wicket win over Papua New Guinea, who had managed 235 thanks to a stunning 151 from opener Tony Ura.
Scotland survived a middle-order collapse to successfully chase down 92 to beat Hong Kong, with skipper Kyle Coetzer making 41 not out.