Mohammad Shahzad starred as Afghanistan laid down a marker ahead of next year's World Cup by romping to a seven-wicket thrashing of the West Indies in the qualifying final yesterday. In the Super Six encounter, Afghanistan prevailed over the Caribbean side by three wickets.
It is a spectacular reversal of fortunes for Afghanistan.
Their win over Scotland on Wednesday - albeit a fortuitous one requiring DLS - saw them become the first team from the tournament to secure a World Cup spot and Holder said it was important for the two-time former World champions to finish strongly.
When one remembers, however, that their opponents were the UAE, Papua New Guinea, Netherlands, and Ireland, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Scotland, even remembering the West Indies record against Afghanistan, their most recent record against Zimbabwe, and that they lost to Ireland last time out, it was not so.
"Not a lot of people believed we could qualify from the first round", Stanikzai said.
"When we played the game against Zimbabwe we beat them with four spinners as well", the Barbadian reminded. "We did half of it, but did not get over the line today".
It completed a remarkable turnaround after a stuttering start to its campaign in the tournament, narrowly making it to the Super Sixes before inching its way up the table and gaining the big prize alongside West Indies.
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"I don't think we have played the flawless game as yet".
This suddenly made Friday's game at the Harare Sports Club a winner-takes-all clash.
They then chased down their target to get home off the first ball of the final over, with Mohammad Shahzad top-scoring with 54. "Whenever we are playing against anyone, when we take a wicket we celebrate like West Indies players".
"Unfortunately we will not be in the World Cup next year".
"This is nothing but a miracle that we have won this tournament", added Stanikzai, whose team will also play their maiden Test match against India in Bangalore in June.
Paul Stirling stitched decent stands of 53 and 44 with William Porterfield and Niall O'Brien, but the Ireland innings had almost screeched to a standstill through the middle-overs when Rashid and his band of spinners orchestrated the play.
"I didn't watch the game but when it (defeat) happened I knew we were on a good thing and it's ours".