Sports has always been a great leveller. It is replete with David versus Goliath-like battles. The triumph of the 'underdog' has been celebrated as much as the victory of the fancied. To expect the unexpected makes sport such an exciting commodity. When Netherlands set out on their mission to qualify for the Super-10 stage of the ICC World Twenty20, they had their task cut out - to score 193 in 14.1 overs against Ireland. The task was monumental but the spirits seldom faded away as they achieved the unthinkable.
In a run-fest at Sylhet, Netherlands stole the march ahead of Ireland and Zimbabwe to join the big boys in the main draw of the competition. In the other group, the likes of Nepal and Hong Kong showed no signs of stage fright. Bangladesh eventually qualified, but only just as Nepal finished on similar points but with an inferior Net-Run-Rate. From the minnows' point of view, their tussle to qualify went down to the final ball and even the ousted teams returned home with their heads held high. While their efforts are genuine and intended towards proving their mettle at the big stage, the big question is where a T20 World Cup is the right stage for them at all?
On March 16, Bangladesh hosted Afghanistan in the first qualifier. It had been a truly rosy period for the Afghans as far as their cricket was concerned. Despite their volatile political landscape, they managed to qualify for the qualifiers of the World Twenty20 and are also one of the four Associate nations to be part of the 14 teams to play the ICC World Cup in 2015.