Afghanistan is not a country that is considered to be a great cricketing nation, and for that reason it’s no surprise that they are the team with the longest cricket odds of winning this year’s World Cup. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t spring a surprise on one of the favourites this year.
There have been plenty of surprises in previous editions of the World Cup and the following should serve as inspiration for Afghanistan as they take part in their second World Cup.
The luck of the Irish has certainly been apparent in the last three editions of the tournament, where they have managed to defeat some big opponents.
It started in 2007 when Ireland managed to defeat Pakistan – who were ranked fourth in the world at the time – by three wickets in group D. Niall O’Brien was named as the Player of the Match as he managed to score 72 runs against a surprisingly poor Pakistan side.
In 2011, Ireland were back at the giant killing, and this time it was England who were on the receiving end. Niall O’Brien’s brother Kevin was named as the Player of the Match this time around, as England lost to Ireland by three wickets. O’Brien also made history by scoring the fastest century in World Cup history, hitting the 100 mark in just 50 balls.
Seemingly not content with two giant killings, Ireland would complete a hat-trick of shock wins in the 2015 World Cup. The West Indies were the latest to be humbled by the Irish, as the Emerald Isle won the match by four wickets, with Paul Stirling named as Player of the Match.
The African nation have never been one of the biggest in cricket, but they have achieved some incredible results when they have participated in the World Cup.
In 1996, Kenya stunned the West Indies, beating them by 73 runs. Kenya’s Maurica Odumbe won the Player of the Match award, after getting three West Indian batsmen out in ten overs, but crucially, only conceded 15 runs.
The 2003 World Cup was their most successful, as they finished as runners-up in a group that contained Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the West Indies. Kenya’s most impressive result was beating group winners Sri Lanka by 53 runs. The Kenyan team were eliminated by India in the semi-finals of the tournament, but it was an impressive stint for a nation with very little history in the competition.
Another African nation to have upset the odds at the World Cup is Zimbabwe. In 1983, they were able to defeat Australia by 13 runs. Nine years later and they defeated England by nine runs and were soon establishing themselves as a team not to be underestimated.
In 1999, the team managed to secure two impressive victories. First they defeated India by three runs, with Grant Flower awarded Player of the Match. They then overcame group winners South Africa by 48 runs as Neil Johnson added to Grant Flower’s Player of the Match awards for Zimbabwe.
Although they reached the Super Six stage of the tournament, they were unable to maintain their good form and finished second bottom, behind New Zealand on net run rate.