The times are bad. Switch on the television to any news channel or just pick up a newspaper. All one can find is bad news coming from everywhere, whether its the global economic crisis or the terrorist strikes happening across the world. The atmosphere is filled with gloom. And it is at times like these that the sports world can provide events which lift up the spirits. The sports arena supplies stories like no other. Stories that touch the heart. Case in point: Afghanistan achieving ODI status in cricket.
Not long ago, the country was ruled by Taliban and had been for all practical purposes cut off from the rest of the world. Then 9/11 happened. And Afghanistan came back into global conciousness after the Taliban was overthrown. Sports play a major role in this (Just look at post-apartheid South Africa after years of international isolation).
About a year and half back a ragtag bunch of Afghans started playing in the World Cricket Leagues. The team slowly worked its way to the World Cup Qualifiers going from Division 5 to Division 2 after winning every single stage. At stake in the tournament was a place in the 2011 cricket world cup and ODI status for the next 4 years. Though they failed to qualify for the World Cup, they did get ODI status. On the way they beat the powerful Associate teams like Ireland, Scotland & Bermuda. The story of Hamid Hassan and his team from the war-torn country provided the romance of the cup. In fact they were the main attraction of the tournament. The whole world loves the underdog and the underdog who performs is even more loved than anything else.
The journey of the Afghanistan team over the last 15 months does prove one thing:
Fairytales do come true