A game will take place in Dubai tomorrow that could become much more than a Cricket match. A T20 World Cup qualifier between Afghanistan and the USA.
As we all know the US have been fighting the Taliban in their opponents country since 2003. So when they face each other tomorrow there will be an added spice to the encounter.
But lets not get into the politics of the occasion. Lets instead look at the rise of the Afghani game over the last 7 years.
Currently playing in the World Cricket League - a competition for countries who don't have Test status - they have risen up to the upper echelons of the competition, currently ranked Number 1 in Asia and 4th overall. Basically this means they are placed 14th in the world rankings.
They have been remarkably successful since being granted membership to the ICC in 2001. Winning Division 5 and Division 4 of the World League in 2008. 2009 also brought about the Division 3 title. They have also been crowned ACC (Asian Cricket Council) T20 Cup winners. (Sharing the 2007 trophy with Oman after drawing the final)
Now they seem to be on the verge of qualifying for their first major competition, the ICC World Twenty20 in West Indies in April. Victory in the match against the US would put them through into the Super 4's.
Although it may seem premature to write they are on the verge of qualifying they have faced two of the better sides, at this level of the game in Scotland and Ireland in the Group Stage and twice been victorious.
Realistically the Super 4's will comprise of the Netherlands/Kenya, UAE(have qualified), Ireland and the Afghans(Either Scotland or the USA can still progress). All teams they are more than capable of beating. None the less this will be a hotly contested group and whoever holds their nerve on the day will prevail.
As for tomorrows contest the Afghan coach Kabir Khan has said that 'every sport should be about peace' and that cricket is a sport for 'gentleman'. Which of course is true, but something tells me that the Afghan players that were born and raised in the refugee camps following the war with Russia in the 80's, and those of whom are from the camps of this war, will have a little more competitive spirit than is the norm.
A report on the game will be posted tomorrow along with a look at some of the Afghans superstars.