March 21, 2018 / 3:49 PM / a month ago

Cricket: Thunderstorm helps West Indies qualify for World Cup

HARARE (Reuters) - Twice World Cup winners West Indies qualified for next year’s tournament after rain ended Scotland’s modest run chase and handed the Caribbean side victory by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method on Wednesday.

In a qualification match that guaranteed the winner a place in the tournament, the West Indies were bowled out for 198 to give cricketing minnows Scotland a gilt-edged chance of participating at their fourth finals when the World Cup is hosted in England next year.

Scotland were 125 for five in their chase with 14 overs still in hand when rain began to fall in Harare with a light shower unexpectedly turning into a heavy thunderstorm.

The contest was called off around 30 minutes after the players had left the field, allowing the once-mighty West Indies, who were not among the automatic qualifiers, to avoid a major upset and secure the narrowest of victories.

“We’ve been though a lot over the last couple of years, it’s not been easy,” said winning captain Jason Holder.

“We came into this qualifying competition as the top-ranked side and we really had to play up to expectations. We are delighted to go through.”

Scotland opener Safyaan Sharif removed Chris Gayle with the first ball of the game and, along with Brad Wheal, went on to take three wickets as all the bowlers impressed.

Evin Lewis, who scored 66, and Marlon Samuels, with 51 runs, were the only batsmen who made significant contributions for the Windies.

Scotland lost their captain Kyle Coetzer in the third over as they began their chase and were constantly under pressure but looking to break the shackles when the storm arrived.

George Munsey was 32 not out in a holding role while Michael Leask was on the front foot and had scored 14 runs off 10 balls.

“There is obviously some emotion in our change room because we faired really well in this tournament and had shown what we are capable of,” said Coetzer, whose team went unbeaten through the first phase of the qualifiers.

It was decided before the 2015 World Cup that the number of teams at the 2019 tournament would be reduced from 14 to 10 and a new qualification structure would be introduced.

West Indies, who won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and four years later, did not qualify automatically for tournament with only the hosts and the top seven other teams in the ICC ODI Championship on Sept. 30 last year making the cut.

The remaining two spots are decided by the qualifying tournament and on Thursday, hosts Zimbabwe can make sure of the other berth if they beat the United Arab Emirates in their last qualifier in Harare.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis

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