DUBAI: Before the start of the Asia Cup Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan had warned his team would not only compete but would achieve something special.
Despite not qualifying for Friday’s final the team from the warn-torn nation achieved enough to sound warning bells for World Cup 2019 teams.
Afghanistan finished the tournament on a high when on Tuesday they pulled off a sensational last over tie against world number two India in Dubai, proving they are a team on the rise.
They upset Sri Lanka by 91 runs before thumping Bangladesh by a big 136-run margin to enter the Super Four Stage, where they narrowly lost to Pakistan by three wickets and to Bangladesh by three runs — both in last over finishes.
Their heroics, Asghar believes, have sent warnings to major nations for the World Cup 2019, to be held in England from May 30 to July 14 next year.
“We can hold our heads high and this performance gives us pride,” said Asghar after the India game in Dubai. “Remember, this is a warning for the World Cup teams.”
Afghanistan’s progress embodies a fairytale rise since the Russian invasion of their country in 1978 forced millions to flee and lived in refugee camps outside Pakistan’s border city of Peshawar.
It was in Pakistan where they were exposed to cricket and, after learning the game, started a continuous rise since 2009, featuring in the World T20 a year later and playing their first World Cup in 2015.