Only 18 months since their promotion to Full Membership, Afghanistan have secured a direct place in the main group stage of the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia by virtue of being in the top eight of teams in the ICC rankings at the 2018 cut-off date.
Afghanistan’s progression up the T20I rankings corresponds with a slip down the order for Sri Lanka, who currently sit in ninth place on 87 points. It means the 2014 world champions will have to go through the opening round of the tournament in order to reach the “Super 12s”, where teams will be split into two groups of six for round-robin play. The 2020 format means Sri Lanka will need to finish in the top two of a four-team group in the opening round in order to advance to the Super 12s.
Teams through to the Super 12: Pakistan, India, England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan
“It is a bit disappointing that we have not been able to ensure a direct Super 12s berth but I’m confident that we will do well in the tournament,” Sri Lanka T20I captain, Lasith Malinga, told the ICC. “Having played three finals and winning once, it is natural that everyone expected us to finish in the top-eight but we have to take the opportunity in the extra matches of the group stage and prepare well for the knock-out matches.”
The 2020 tournament will mark the first time that Afghanistan won’t have to go through a qualifying round in order to reach the main phase of the T20 World Cup, now dubbed the “Super 12s”. They went a perfect seven-for-seven in T20Is in 2018, including a 3-0 sweep of Bangladesh, to move up to eighth on the rankings table, five points clear of Sri Lanka in ninth and 15 points above Bangladesh in 10th.
This left Shakib Al Hasan saying: “We have not secured a direct Super 12s berth but I’m confident that we will do well in the tournament by going through the group stage.