World Cricket League January 31, 2009

Hamid Hassan - Thankful for a second chance

Hamid Hassan

Hamid Hassan

I can’t believe that our hopes of qualifying for the World Cup are still alive after yesterday’s dramatic finish against Cayman Islands.

We are used to having exciting conclusions to our matches, but when the opposition is 35-2 chasing only 63 to win after the target was reduced due to rain you never expect to get away with it and be able to start the match all over again.

But God seems to be on our side in this tournament and the torrential rain in Buenos Aires saved us from a terrible performance yesterday.

I never thought before this tournament that it would rain in Argentina – you only think of sunshine and Maradona when you think of the country – but thankfully we have another chance to beat Cayman Islands today.

There have been so many incredible matches and moments on our journey to the World Cup, it is amazing that when we haven’t performed as well as we should the weather seems to have saved us, like when it rained in Jersey in Division 5 which ruined Singapore’s qualification chances.

We need to improve on our batting, which hasn’t done particularly well at this tournament so far, as we seem to be taking too many risks early on rather than saving wickets for later in the innings.

As a bowler you always want to have some runs on the board to play with, but everybody seems to have struggled with the bat during the course of the tournament.

When the rain came down at 68 for 5, we spent so much time taking the covers off only to then have to put them back on again when the rain started again that I thought we never would get a chance to finish the match yesterday.

But then the early evening sunshine suddenly arrived and I knew we would struggle to defend the rain reduced target that Cayman Islands had to chase.

Kabir Khan, our coach, told us never to give up hope and I tried to bowl as fast as I could when opening the bowling – something I don’t normally do with the white ball but I knew that we needed to get wickets as quickly as possible.

I felt that I was bowling well and seem to be getting my pace back, but no matter how hard I tried I didn’t get much luck with my bowling and they scored two lucky fours off me towards third man and fine leg which left our opposition on the verge of victory until it started pouring with rain. Amazingly, the bright sunshine was out again by the time we got on the coach to go back home – we were so lucky!

When we got back to the hotel, I got phone calls from some of my friends in Afghanistan, even though it was the middle of the night back at home, telling me that we have to improve our performance tomorrow. It is great to have such passionate supporters and I enjoy the pressure of trying to raise the spirits of our people back at home. One of my best friends, who lives in New York, whose name is Rishen Patel, has also been telling me that he has been praying for us all the time and has promised me that he will come and watch all our matches in South Africa if we qualify from Division 3.

Quite simply, we know that we need to win today if we are to finish in the top two at this event and thankfully the weather in Buenos Aires this morning is sunny. Like all match days, I was awake very early this morning getting prepared for the game, and tried to relax by surfing the internet on the computers in the hotel reception.

Of course, we could still qualify if our net run rate is better than Uganda, so we will be hoping that Argentina wins its match, but we don’t want to rely on anybody else.

We are so close to reach the World Cup Qualifier in South Africa and I want to do everything I can to ensure that people back home in Afghanistan will have something to party about in the middle of the night.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo