4 talking points from World Cup qualifiers
After almost three weeks of nerve-wracking contests and some intense cricket, the ICC World Cup qualifiers concluded on Sunday with Afghanistan claiming the trophy by beating West Indies in the finals, albeit both had already secured a qualification by then.
The road to the finals, however, was anything but straightforward. With as many as 10 teams battling it out under the sweltering Harare sun, we were never short of a moment to bask into.
But as we bring down the curtains to a topsy-turvy qualification campaign, here's what we can take away from it.
#1 Associate also-rans take the game to the big boys of Test cricket
It took just Afghanistan's defeat to Scotland on the opening day to suggest that this ain't going to be a smooth sail for the top shouts. And as the campaign progressed, we were regularly reaffirmed.
It wasn't until the fourth game of the group stage when Rashid Khan and co. really got going, having also been defeated by Hong Kong and Zimbabwe, while the hosts were stunningly knocked out following a loss to UAE in their final game of the Super Six. West Indies, hot favorites from the lot, needed a wake-up call in the form an Afghanistan defeat in the Super Sixes opener, before going down to them again in the finals which they should've nicked comfortably.
But between the jigs and the reels, the qualifiers came alive due to these unexpected upsets and added to the thrill. And that also made the last three weeks of cricket a turbulent Helluva ride.