Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan's star quick-bowler, believes his team can head back to Afghanistan proud of their World Twenty20 experience and has challenged his side to become the best non-Test playing nation.
Hassan took three wickets in four overs against South Africa on Wednesday as Afghanistan put in a good showing against South Africa, restricting them to 139 off 20 overs. He removed Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy and Mark Boucher with impressive pace and his ebullient attitude epitomised the optimism sweeping across Afghani cricket.
"I believe we are heading home to Afghanistan with our heads held high despite losing our second consecutive match of the tournament," he wrote in his Cricinfo blog. "We can be proud of the fact that we did ourselves justice in the field with a really good bowling display.
Having tasted competition against the world's best Hassan is undaunted by the challenges that lie ahead for Afghanistan and thinks his side could surprise top teams soon.
"Looking back on the event, I think we have shown that we have the potential to compete against some of the Full Members, and it is just a shame that we didn't qualify for the [50-over] World Cup 2011 as I think with another year to improve we could have surprised a few teams."
Afghanistan narrowly missed out on qualification last March but bounced back to gain entry for the World Twenty20, beating Ireland in the final in qualifying tournament January. Hassan insists the best way for his team to improve is to get more fixtures against good teams.
"We have shown what we have been able to do in these two matches and with more regular exposure to top quality batters and bowlers then we can get better," he wrote. "To try and become the best non-Test playing country in the world we need to prove that we can win titles on a regular basis and not just in the Twenty20 format of the game."