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Stanikzai to miss start of World Cup Qualifier

Asghar Stanikzai flays one to the leg side WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks LaTouche Photogr

Afghanistan will be without their captain, Asghar Stanikzai, for the start of the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe after he was forced to undergo surgery for appendicitis. Stanikzai is expected to be out for 10 days.

Rashid Khan, the legspinner who is ranked No. 1 in the world, will step up from vice-captain to lead the side in Stanikzai's absence. Afghanistan have two warm-up fixtures before beginning their campaign against Scotland on March 4, followed by further group games on March 6, 8 and 10.

Afghanistan, ranked tenth in ODIs, are hoping to secure a place at the 2019 World Cup. Only two teams from the qualifier will go to the tournament, to be held in England.

Afghanistan will face Zimbabwe, Nepal and Hong Kong, as well as Scotland, in Group B, with the top three teams going into a Super Six stage alongside three from Group A, likely to include West Indies and Ireland.

Speaking in Harare ahead of the tournament, Rashid said: "It feels good to see that Afghanistan is a favourite to qualify. I think we should show it on the ground, it's not only on paper that we should look good. We should give 100% on the ground and deliver. The result is not in our hands but we can only give 100% and play positive, believe in ourselves, just go in and enjoy."

Stanikzai took over as captain in 2015 but has only averaged 17.86 in 37 ODI innings. During the 4-1 win over Zimbabwe in Sharjah earlier this month, he only batted three times and made scores of 3, 1 and 2.