Afghan’s shocking surge to the qualifiers for the 2011 ICC world cup has been the happiest surprises in a war-torn country where everything comes unpredictably. With the nation facing its second democratic presidential elections set for August of this year, their proud cricket team is fighting its opponents off in their struggle to reach their first ever world cup. If done so, it will be the first time Afghanistan’s any sports team has reached such a competition ever.
Cricket which started for Afghans only 20 years ago while they were in refugee camps in neighboring Pakistan, has improved by leaps and bounds. It has hit world headlines with Afghans recent victories in a couple of tournaments that paved the way for them to play in World Cup qualifiers. Although Afghan team has been a young inexperienced side yet it has proved its worth by beating two teams in their pool i.e., Denmark and Bermuda. It was only their major encounter with the strong and experienced Kenyan side that they bowed out of the ground with a defeat. However, they can bounce back anytime.
With two sides more to face Afghanistan has still a bright chance of reaching the next leg of qualifiers i.e., Super eight and then if they could excel that, their place for the upcoming world cup 2011 designed to be played in the subcontinent will be booked once and for all. For now, we can expect a very hard time for our team while they will be facing Netherlands and UAE. Both these teams have already appeared in the World up before. It will never be an achievement as big as that of ours if any of the other teams reach this grand arena.
The media still flash Afghan teams although not as the favorites but for the mythical achievements they have made. It can be figured out from the current scenario and position of the team in the world cup from the following brief report.
Resurgent Kenya halted the victory roll of giant-killers Afghanistan on Saturday with a 107-run win in the 2011 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
The full-time professionals from east Africa compiled a daunting 282-5 in their allotted 50 overs with Kennedy Obuya hitting an undefeated 109 in the north-west university town of Potchefstroom.
Facing their first major test of the final qualifying tournament for the World Cup, Afghanistan surrendered five wickets for 62 runs and was all out for 175 after 47 overs.
After Group B victories over Denmark and Bermuda, this was a reality check for a young Afghan team that honed its skills as refugees in neighbouring Pakistan after fleeing conflict in their homeland. They face unpredictable Netherlands and United Arab Emirates early next week and a top-four finish in the six-team mini-league will take them through to the Super Eights.
The teams finishing first to fourth in the second pool phase secure places at the World Cup scheduled for Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with Australia defending the title.
Kenya, shock first-day losers to Netherlands, had 87 runs on the board before losing opener Morris Ouma (35) and the total reached 175 before the Afghan bowlers claimed another wicket with Alex Obanda (60) the victim.
But the team that reached South Africa by winning qualifying tournaments in Jersey, Tanzania and Argentina, had no answer to the batting of Obuya, whose 136-ball knock included 11 fours and one six. Opener Karim Sadiq, a key contributor with ball and bat to the two victories in South Africa, flopped this time, making just eight runs before being caught by Obuya off the bowling of Peter Ogondo.
Afghanistan continued to struggle and only middle-order Mohammad Nabi (56) made a significant contribution against a Kenyan attack in which Thomas Odoyo (3-29) and Hiren Varaiya (2-29) performed best.
With Netherlands losing a thriller against UAE by two wickets, there are no unbeaten teams in Group B and only pointless Denmark appear out of contention for a Super Eights slot.
The big challenge a head for Afghan side will be to overcome at least either Netherlands or UAE which seem very probable for the strong determined Afghan side. Fingers are already crossed back home for them. And Afghans would definitely love to see their side representing them in the mega event in 2011