History will be in the making at Fatullah today afternoon when Afghanistan finally make their debut in the big league when they take on neighbours Pakistan in their first game of the Asia Cup.
Led by Mohammad Nabi, the Afghans who have scaled various peaks in the last couple of years will want to make the most of this competition and gain as much experience as possible ahead of the ICC World Twenty20. Statistically there is not much to speak of. Australia and Pakistan are the only two top-notch teams that Afghanistan have played against and while they did lose those matches, they made quite an impression.
Against Australia at Sharjah in 2012, they scored 206 with Asghar Stanikzai scoring a fighting half-century. While the only ODI against Pakistan did not go too well, the Afghans almost beat them in a recent T20 encounter, a game which went right down to the last ball, in Sharjah.
That six out of the eight players in their current squad took part in the domestic league, including Nabi himself, is an aspect that the Afghans are looking to count on.
"It's a tough tournament. Our challenge is to prove how we can play against full members and show to the world that Afghanistan is the best team among Associate Members. We have no target, just want to give it our best," Nabi said in the pre-tournament press conference.
And their journey will begin with the tough but familiar opponents, Pakistan. Misbahul Haq and company must be gutted at having wasted a golden opportunity to win the first game. Despite some good performances from Umar Akmal and Misbah, a string of wickets in the end led to their down fall and they will be looking to make amends.
On the face of it, the Afghans won't be the first team to be discussed on the drawing board, but deep inside everyone's aware of the threat they possess and the good outfit that they can become in the coming years. All that, of course begins today; the first day of a long dwindling road ahead.