Afghanistan have earned one-day international status after a 21-run win against Namibia in their final Super Eight game, but missed out on World Cup qualification after finishing 6th in the group, behind qualifiers Ireland, Canada, Holland and Kenya.
A comfortable win for the Netherlands against Canada and a determined match-winning partnership between Collins Obuya and Thomas Odoyo for Kenya against Ireland meant that all my predictions about Net Run-rate came to naught.
But when Kenya were trembling at 96-4 (needing 209) and the Afghans had Namibia on their knees at 79-5 (having scored 244 themselves), it seemed for all the world as though World Cup qualification was there for the taking - I was willing the Afghan captain, Nowrooz Mangal, to bring back his attack's spearhead, Hameed Hasan, a favourite of this blog, and go for the jugular, the comprehensive win. In the back of my mind was the thought that a conscious decision may have been made not to risk losing the tantalising prospect of ODI status, yet this is almost certainly a churlish overestimation of the information available to this marvellously game outfit in the thick of the fray.
Instead of speculating as to what might have been, it is better to look forward to what the Afghans can achieve in 4 well-funded years, having seen what they managed in 2 years without resources. They will surely continue fulfilling Hameed Hasan's hope of "showing the world we are a good team and a country of friendly, peaceful people. We are not what people say, when they say we only fight. We are also good cricketers and [have] good talent, and want to prove to the world Afghanistan is a country full of people like us."
It may be hard to find such good reasons to support a team in the upcoming IPL.