Six months after Afghanistan qualified for its maiden appearance in the Cricket World Cup, its success story continues to make waves and the strife-torn country has now entered into the main ODI rankings table for the first time.
Following Afghanistan's 32-run win over Bangladesh Saturday in the Asia Cup at Fatullah, its first against a Full Member side of the ICC, it has met the criteria for its maiden inclusion in the main Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings table.
Afghanistan joins the table in 12th place with 32 ratings points, with the opportunity to slide past 11th-placed Ireland should it win either of its two remaining Asia Cup group matches.
To gain the promotion to the main rankings table, Afghanistan needed to either win two ODIs against Full Members, or achieve one win in an ODI against a Full Member and also needed to have won more than 60 per cent of qualifying matches versus other Associates.
Afghanistan immediately achieved a ranking upon entry into the table, having played 12 ODIs since August 2010, with the minimum requirement being eight matches.
Afghanistan's 32 ratings points come from the results of these 12 ODIs and the ranking of its opponents at the time the matches were played.
It has been a remarkable journey for Afghanistan which was playing in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 in 2008.
In 2010, it qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010 by winning the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2010.
It then finished second to Ireland in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2012 to qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 Sri Lanka 2012. Afghanistan finished runner-up a second time to Ireland at the qualifying event in 2013 to make it to the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014.
Afghanistan has also played in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2010 in New Zealand, the 2012 edition in Australia, and, most recently, finished seventh in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2014.
Meanwhile, India still has an opportunity to retain its number-two position in the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings at the April 1 cut-off date.
At number two, India is the highest ranked side in the ongoing Asia Cup, which also features third-ranked Sri Lanka, sixth-placed Pakistan, Bangladesh in ninth and newly promoted Afghanistan in 12th position.
The side that finishes on top of the ODI rankings table at the 1 April cut-off date receives a shield and a cheque of USD 175,000, while the side that finishes second receives USD 75,000.
India held the number-one rank from January 2013, but ceded the top position to Australia after losing its ODI series against New Zealand 0-4 in January 2014.
Australia is assured of the number-one ranking on the Reliance ICC ODI Team Rankings on the April 1 cut-off date, with 117 ratings points, and will receive the ODI Shield as well as a cheque of USD 175,000 for finishing atop.
Even if India were to win all of its remaining matches in the Asia Cup, including the final, it will gain two ratings points to move to 115. Therefore, India can at best hope to retain its number-two position at the end of the Asia Cup, but its position will be challenged by Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka can move ahead of India on the rankings table if it wins all its remaining matches in the Asia Cup, including the final, and if India loses both its remaining matches. In such a scenario, Sri Lanka will gain three ratings points to finish on 112, on par with India, but when ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point, Angelo Mathews’ side will be ranked higher.