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Happy to carry favourites tag - Rashid Khan

Rashid will lead Afghanistan until Stanikzai's return.
Rashid will lead Afghanistan until Stanikzai's return. © Getty
It was a hectic day for three national captains as the preparations for the World Cup Qualifier began in Zimbabwe. The teams are all set to play warm-up games which precede the main goal - to try and qualify for the 2019 World Cup by finishing in the top two in the upcoming tournament.
Afghanistan were dealt a blow even before the qualifier began as their regular captain and key middle-order batsman Asghar Stanikzai was advised rest for 10 days to remove his appendix. Star legspinner Rashid Khan has been handed the captaincy till Stanikzai regains fitness and he was happy to go with the favourites tag. "It feels good to see that Afghanistan is a favourite to qualify," said the world's number-one ranked ODI bowler, adding: "I think we should show it on the ground, it's not only on paper that we should look good.
"We should give 100 per cent on the ground and deliver. The result is not in our hands but we can only give 100 per cent on the ground and play positive, believe in ourselves, just go in and enjoy."
Rashid wanted his team to take one step at a time, with the initial focus on the Super Six stage. "We should take one by one - each game, not worry about qualifying for the final.
"We should finish the table having four points, it will be very handy in the next round. We have to take every match seriously. We have to play good cricket against every team. Hopefully it will go well and we will get four points and go to the next round," he said.
Veteran Netherlands skipper Peter Borren was of the opinion that the 10-team tournament was a tough one, stating that the format is ruthless but at the same time pointed out that his side had the required experience of playing in such qualifying tournaments before which should hold them in good stead."We've got quite a bit of experience in these qualifying tournaments. We've learnt from successes and failures in the past. It is ruthless, it's pretty difficult to qualify it being a 10-team tournament," said Borren, adding: "Our experience should help because we know you've to turn up every day, you can't afford to have a bad day or two bad days. You have to make sure that you consistently perform.
"We've had a lot of success in the last three years, we have become accustomed to winning and as much as we know, this is a big challenge and we are really looking forward to it. This is why we play cricket.
"The standard of qualifying tournaments has risen a lot, the Associates have got a lot better. When we last qualified for the 50-over World Cup, we played the qualifying tournament in 2009 in South Africa which was competitive, but the cricket was not of the standard that we will see in this tournament," he said.
Hong Kong who were granted ODI status till 2018 as a result of finishing third in the 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, would be looking forward to leave an impression and the side's captain Babar Hayat was confident in his team's ability to have a good tournament. "The way we have been working hard for the past four years, our main focus is to just get into the World Cup," he said. "All the guys are very confident and for all of us it will be a dream come true if we get to play in the World Cup.
"The best thing (for us) was that everyone performed in the World Cricket League, so it was brilliant overall and hopefully we will continue that form in the World Cup Qualifier. The best thing about the team is that we are really young - our average age is 24 or 25, so we are really energetic. The next four years we will get much better and better.
"(Our fans) have been following us and supporting us, I've got a lot of messages from friends, family members, fans, Everyone is backing us and they know that we have the ability to get into the World Cup," Hayat signed off.

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