Afghan fans watch their team's victory against Kenya on a big screen in Kabul. Photo: AFP
MOHAMMAD NABI'S parents fled Afghanistan during the war with the Soviet Union and he was born and raised in a refugee camp in Peshawar in neighbouring Pakistan.
That's where the Afghanistan cricket captain learnt to play - chasing a battered tennis ball around with other refugees and Pakistani children.
Afghanistan will head to Canberra and the 50-over World Cup for the first time in 2015, the war-torn country having beaten Kenya by seven wickets in the final qualification match on Friday night.
Afghanistan will play Bangladesh in Canberra's opening World Cup match at Manuka Oval on February 18, 2015, exactly 500 days away on Sunday.
Afghanistan and cricket are uncommon bedfellows - the country is more associated with war and desert. Nabi's story is a common one, with most of the team learning to play in Peshawar as children. He hopes his team's qualification can give hope to a nation ravaged by war on-and-off for the past 40 years.
''I was born in Peshawar … I studied in school in Peshawar, everywhere was cricket,'' Nabi said.
''We play with a tennis ball and we learnt [a lot about] cricket and then we joined the club cricket.''
Having starred with two wickets for 10 runs in the final qualification match, Nabi told the International Cricket Council website: ''I can't express my feelings. It is a very big day in my life. I'm sure there will be huge celebrations back home.
''I didn't expect to play in a World Cup when I started playing cricket. But now I can cherish this moment and look forward to playing against the best sides in some of the best facilities.''
The Afghanistan ambassador in Canberra, Nasir Andisha, said while cricket was relatively new to his country, it was fast becoming a big sport.
He confessed to being new to the game himself, but was up late watching the win online.
The Afghan win was amazing on several levels. Not only are they a non-traditional cricketing nation, but their infrastructure and resources are far inferior to most of the teams at the World Cup.
''We see our teams getting on to the world stage and doing a good job despite not having all the facilities, not having all the enablers to get into that stage,'' Andisha said. ''Very poor facilities we have in Afghanistan, [and for] the training we cannot afford good coaches and most of these people are amateurs, but despite that the team is progressing so well.''
With a trip to Canberra locked in for the team, Andisha just needs to ensure he's still in the nation's capital in 500 days' time so he can be in the stands at Manuka Oval for their World Cup debut.
''I'll probably push the government just to keep me here for another year,'' Andisha said.
''If I'm lucky I will do that [see them play at Manuka].''
Manuka's other matches will be West Indies against Zimbabwe on February 24, and South Africa versus Ireland on March 3.