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Cricket's most heart-warming story

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Oliver Brett | 06:30 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010


At one level, the ICC World Twenty20, which begins in Guyana on Friday, is just another opportunity for cricket's 10 elite Test nations to squabble over yet another trophy.

Out of dozens of associate and affiliate nations keen for a crack at the big time, there is room for just two additional qualifiers. But one of them, remarkably, is war-torn Afghanistan. The ultimate underdogs, in sport as in any walk of life, they only became recognised as a cricketing nation in 2001.

The 11 men who will take on millionaire Indian superstars like Mahendra Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh on 1 May in the idyllic tourist haven of St Lucia grew up in the bleak surroundings of the refugee camps in Pakistan, following the Soviet invasion of their homeland in 1979.

The journey from there to cricket's top table is one of the most heartening stories in sport, and one of the most unlikely.

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