Feeling they were perhaps unjustly denied a chance to play in the Asia Cup, Afghanistan has turned that frustration into joy by dominating the World Twenty20 Qualfier field.
Afghanistan are out to state their case in World Twenty20 qualifier
DUBAI // Missing out on the Asia Cup has added to Afghanistan's motivation to win the World Twenty20 Qualifier for another shot at cricket's major teams.
Afghanistan, who play Namibia on Thursday with one of two World T20 spots on the line, had hoped their recent international success would have been enough to convince the Asian Cricket Council to include them in the Asia Cup, which has run at the same time as World T20 qualifying.
But the Asia Cup was restricted to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the hosts. Bangladesh play Pakistan in the final Thursday.
Kabir Khan, the coach, said his Afghan team were upset after being informed that the region's Test teams did not want to expand the Asia Cup to include them.
"I think it's a shame. They should have given us that chance," Kabir said. "The Asia Cup is an ODI tournament and we have ODI status. We have earned that position by winning tournaments and going up in the rankings.
"If you don't play against those top teams, how are we going to improve? If we play teams below us, competitive-wise and talent-wise, and we keep on winning again and again, nobody will test our skills and ability. It's very important we play in those tournaments."
Shahriar Khan, a media manager for the Asian Cricket Council, said the Asia Cup could not accommodate Afghanistan because the team received ODI status long after contracts were signed for the competition from 2010 to 2014. He also said budgets and broadcast contracts had already been negotiated and team schedules were set.
"There is no way possible to bring in a fifth team at the last minute because scheduling is so tight," Shahriar said. "If you have five teams that means an extra four days, which is impossible. We are not spurning Afghanistan. The Afghanistan cricket administrators know the situation."
The snub, though, has done little to hurt Afghanistan's confidence at the World T20 qualifier. They have won all seven of their group matches, including a four-wicket win over Holland, their biggest group challenger.
"Of course we are happy. We are unbeaten," said Mohammad Shahzad, the wicketkeeper. "We have played well against every team and reached the semi-finals. It doesn't matter who comes to the semi-finals. We will beat them. We are feeling well. Our batsmen's form is good. Our bowlers' form good. Inshallah, we are doing well."
The losers of today's match will have a second chance to play in the World Cup this September although they will have to battle with Canada, Ireland, Holland and Scotland.