ICC T20 World Cup: Afghanistan See Shining Light Under Gloomy Grenadian Skies

Nightmares turned into dreams for Afghanistan, a few minutes later when Naveen-Ul-Haq hit the final nail on the coffin to bowl Bangladesh out for 105

Afghanistan celebrate win
Afghanistan celebrate their win Photo: AP/Ramon Espinosa

Rashid Khan looked frustrated, furious, full of emotion when Karim Janat denied a second run when Afghanistan would have appreciated every run like an Afghani from all over Kandahar to Kunduz. (Full Coverage|More Cricket News)

Is it the competitive edge for wanting every run, every wicket, every win that adds up to make the difference? Does being as relentless as time pave the way to success? 

Well, he later got the strike back, and deposited one over cow corner for a 98-metre maximum, finishing the innings with a flourish. 115-5 in 20 overs. Enough to win on a tricky Kingstown surface that had some bite in it for the bowlers? Enough with history on the line, and expectations multiplied with it? For Afghanistan, it was. 

Defending a very modest total, the backs were against the wall early on when Litton Das started off exceedingly well. A four and a six, with 13 runs off the first over. 13 already knocked off out of the 116 needed.

Things went from bad to worse when Rahmanullah Gurbaz was off the field, experiencing serious pain in his left knee. The magic spray was out, but was not enough. Just when momentum was starting to shift towards Bangladesh, with dark clouds looming around Afghani heads, their lethal Fazalhaq Farooqi drew first blood. There were smiles but not much. 

However, those smiles got much wider when Naveen-ul-Haq sent Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shakib Al Hasan back to the hut on consecutive deliveries. But, Litton and Soumya Sarkar started to slowly consolidate and take Bangladesh to slightly safer waters. 

Then came the magic. Afghanistan were pushing it to the limit and it was only bettered by the man from Nangarhar. Rashid broke through in his very first over, cleaning up Sarkar. The hopes increased when the wrist-spinner holed out Bangladesh’s most impressive T20 World Cup batter Towhid Hridoy at deep mid-wicket.

But, with no interest to give in, Litton was fighting a lone battle at the other end. He was joined by Mahmudullah and started to make things better for the Tigers. The win pendulum started to swing again. 

With the game so good, even the weather gods wanted a piece of it. With the DLS par scores changing with every delivery, dots and wickets were as precious as gems. Rashid, like he always does, stepped up and went on his celebratory run with teammates trying to catch him after picking up Mahmudullah and Rishad Hossain on back-to-back deliveries. 

Wickets were tumbling, but Rashid had completed his four. So the skipper turned to Gulbudin Naib who had a knack of picking wickets. And, did not disappoint. Nightmares turned into dreams, a few minutes later when Naveen-ul-Haq hit the final nail on the coffin to bowl Bangladesh out for 105.

There was emotion. There were tears. There was fight and there was a new demigod in Grenadines. Afghanistan’s ability to live in the now, fighting for themselves, and against the world with so many doubts and uncertainties, wizarding their way into the T20 World Cup semi-final are scripts that are freakishly good and will be read by people around Afghanistan and beyond - potentially turning into a guide that shows the way to realise a dream.