Strange things are happening in Zimbabwe where the final World Cup cricket qualifying tournament for next year's event is taking place.

For a start the West Indies are winning games; for another Afghanistan are not.

This is the West Indies who have been playing like a busted flush for years now, to the point where they have had the ignominious experience, for two-time champions not to mention double world T20 champions in more recent short form of the game, of having to match up to the likes of Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates to get to the tournament they graced with skill, flair and authority in its early editions.

They have won their first two games and are sitting pretty to run deep into the contest for the final two spots in the big show in England.


Remember, the format has been changed down from 14 to 10 teams, which was greeted much as you would expect by the associate member countries, who have seen their chance to duke it out with the heavyweights on the main stage thrown in the bin by the International Cricket Council with barely believable short-sightedness.

The Windies are essentially the same lame group who were a major embarrassment in New Zealand before Christmas. They play Ireland in what should be the heavyweight clash of this lighter weight tournament in Harare late tonight .

Afghanistan, the darlings of world cricket, received test status last year and are due to make their debut against India at some point this year.

They are captained by the clever legspinner Rashid Khan, only 19, and who made such an impact during the Big Bash League at the Adelaide Strikers.

They arrived in Zimbabwe with high hopes of again making the World Cup to continue their remarkable rise in the game.

But it's all gone awfully wrong. They are now 0-from-3 in their group, having been beaten by Scotland by seven wickets; Zimbabwe by two runs and, most gallingly by Hong Kong, by 30 runs on a Duckworth-Lewis rejig.

They have only Nepal left to play late tonight and are all but gone.

This will be the same Afghanistan who delighted and bewitched batsmen in New Zealand at the recent under-19 World Cup. There are magic spinning fingers in Afghanistan but to paraphrase Wallaby legend George Gregan at the 2003 World Cup it looks like four more years for Khan and his chums.

Ireland have also received test status, their debut expected to be against Pakistan in Ireland this year. They share Afghanistan's ambitions in the shorter game but, unlike the Afghans, are likely to take their place, for a fourth successive tournament, in England next year.