Afghanistan earns place in 2015 Cricket World Cup

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War-weary Afghanistan achieved one of its finest sporting moments by qualifying for its first Cricket World Cup on Friday.

The Afghans had to beat Kenya in the last match of the World Cricket League Championship, and won by seven wickets in a canter.

Afghanistan edged United Arab Emirates for the second automatic qualifying spot in the eight-team competition which started in June last year. The Afghans and Ireland, the championship winner, advance to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Afghanistan bowled out Kenya for a mere 93 runs in 43.3 overs with spinners Hamza Hotak, Mohammad Nabi and Karim Sadiq sharing seven wickets.

Nabi then scored an unbeaten 46 off 42 balls and hit the winning boundary as Afghanistan raced to a triumphant 96-3 in only 20.5 overs.

Afghanistan has played in the last two World Twenty20s, but to qualify for a World Cup is remarkable progress for a country which has only a handful of turf pitches.

Most of the players grew up playing in refugee camps in Pakistan.

Come 2015, they will be in a World Cup pool with Australia, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and another qualifier yet to be determined. Two more Associate teams, like Afghanistan and Ireland, will have a chance to qualify in New Zealand next year.

It was only five years ago when Afghanistan was playing in World Cricket League Division 5 - the lowest ranked tournament among the affiliate members.

But since then Afghanistan has made rapid progress, its status was raised to an Associate member of the ICC, and it plays one-day internationals and Twenty20s.

UAE also played an important part in the Afghans' progress, as Sharjah has been their home base for at least last two years. They have competed against Australia and Pakistan in ODIs at Sharjah.

In 2010, Afghanistan qualified for the World Twenty20 in West Indies, and last year played in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Afghanistan didn’t win a match in either.

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