'We are the Rocky of world cricket' - Hamid Hassan
Afghanistan's battle against adversity during their rise up the cricket ranks has all the makings of a Hollywood script. Now, after their victory over USA which confirmed progression to the Super Fours of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Hamid Hassan, their star performer, has compared his country's success against the odds to the iconic boxing movie Rocky, with Hassan himself delivering the knockout blow.
Hassan took 3 for 14 as USA were restricted to 106 for 7 in their pursuit of 136 on Thursday, and it gives him a tournament haul of eight wickets at 8.12. Hassan, who spent time as an MCC Young Cricketer along with team-mate Mohammad Nabi, has been a regular contributor to Afghanistan's growing list of international victories with his pace bowling.
"I am a big fan of American television and movies and my favourite film is Rocky - I vividly remember watching it when I was growing up - and one of my heroes is Sylvester Stallone," Hassan wrote in his Cricinfo blog.
"I think that there is a similarity in the story of Rocky and the Afghanistan cricket team - we both started at the bottom and gradually made our way up the rankings. It is easy to forget how far we have come in the last two years since we played at the World Cricket League Division 5 in Jersey."
Afghanistan are now one step closer to reaching the World Twenty20 in West Indies having just missed out on qualification for the 2011 World Cup and Hassan couldn't help but think ahead to the possibility of facing the leading teams in the world.
"We all want to win the tournament," he said. "Having the chance to play against India or South Africa at the ICC World Twenty20 really would be like Rocky having the chance to fight the champion and we are determined to make our dreams come true."
Rocky overcame all his obstacles to become the champion, and don't rule out Afghanistan scripting their own, real life, glorious ending.