It's unbelievable that we are here
Hamid Hassan, the Afghanistan bowler, blogs for Cricinfo from the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa.
I am very happy we are in the qualifiers and that we are one step away from playing at the 2011 World Cup. We will try our best to qualify for the Super Eight stages of the competition and, hopefully, we can do well.
It is unbelievable that we are here, as we started in Division 5 of the World Cricket League last year when there were 12 teams and everybody said the USA and Jersey were the favourites for that tournament. Nobody really expected us to do well, and we didn’t expect that much as we knew we were playing against some very good teams who had played at a much higher level than us.
Our victory over Nepal in the semi-final of Division 5 was amazing and we grew in confidence when we won a dramatic final against Jersey. We went away after that event and worked really hard at our game and did very well in Division 4 in Tanzania which we also won. Division 3 was much tougher and we lost our first match against Uganda, but bounced back with some really good performances, which meant we needed to beat the Cayman Islands in our last match to qualify.
I still don’t know how we managed to get away with that match, as Cayman Islands were on the edge of victory, when the rain suddenly intervened and the match was abandoned. We played much better the following day and our victory meant we had emerged winners the Division 3 tournament.
I have been happy with how our preparations in South Africa have gone and it was good to get a win against Oman on Saturday in our final warm-up match, having lost to Ireland earlier in the week. We had spent the weekend in Johannesburg, where we were staying in the same hotel complex as the Australian and South African teams, which was amazing. I managed to see quite a few famous players including Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin.
On Monday we travelled down to our new hotel base and we are now finalising our preparations for our first game on Wednesday. It is very important for us to win our first two matches; if we do that, we know it will be easier to play our other matches. We are hoping to win our first two games against Denmark and Bermuda and we will then see how we do against the Netherlands, UAE and Kenya.
It is our dream to play in the World Cup and we are hoping to do the best we can in this tournament.