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Afghanistan earn direct entry to T20 World Cup

DUBAI: Afghanistan, who made their Test debut barely six months ago, have earned direct entry into the group stage of the T20 World Cup in 2020 but Sri Lanka as well as Bangladesh will have to qualify, the ICC announced here on Tuesday.

Afghanistan’s rise to eighth in the ICC T20 rankings means they will go straight into the Super 12s alongside tournament hosts Australia, defending champions West Indies, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand and South Africa.

Asghar Afghan’s men — who have qualified for the previous four T20 World Cups — won each of their seven T20Is in 2018, including a 3-0 sweep over Bangladesh and have emerged victorious in 18 of their last 21 games in the format.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ranked ninth and 10th respectively at the 2018 cut-off date of Dec 31, will now have to enter an eight-team first phase with the top-four sides then advancing into the Super 12s of a tournament that will be staged between Oct 18 and Nov 15 next year.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will learn the identity of their six opponents when the 14-team T20 Global Qualifier is contested in late 2019.

Ireland, Zimbabwe, Scotland, the Netherlands, Oman and Hong Kong will play in the Global Qualifier alongside eight other nations from five regional qualification competitions — Africa, Americas, Asia, East Asia-Pacific and Europe.

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