Afghanistan entered the Super Sixes stage of the Cricket World Cup Qualifier knowing they needed to win their next three matches to stand any chance of progressing to the main event next summer.
The first stage of that mission is complete, after they defeated the previously unbeaten West Indies by three wickets in an absorbing, topsy-turvy contest at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.
The much-vaunted Afghan spinners were the architects of the victory, restricting their opponents to 197 for 8, with the teenage spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3/33) continuing his rapid rise to stardom.
Despite the early loss of their openers, Afghanistan looked to have the run chase under control with Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi patiently compiling 49 for the fourth wicket to take them to 132 for 3, but Jason Holder's dismissal of the latter opened the door for the Windies.
Nabi, sensing an opportunity to find a vital boundary, took on a short delivery from the Windies captain but Shimron Hetmyer dived forward to take a stunning catch just inside the mid-wicket boundary.
It was Holder's 100th ODI wicket, making him the fastest West Indian to reach the milestone of 100 wickets and 1,000 runs in the 50-over format.
West Indies further tightened the screw when Shah, who had batted so impressively for his 68 from 109 deliveries, played a loose cut stroke to Ashley Nurse and Keemo Paul took a simple catch at point. It left the match in the balance, with Afghanistan requiring 44 runs from 57 balls.
After seven wickets down Rashid Khan (13 not out) and Sharafuddin Ashraf (7 not out) held their nerve to win the game with 14 balls to spare.
Meanwhile, Nepal have gained ODI status for the first time in their history after defeating Papua New Guinea by six wickets in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier play-off at Old Hararians Sports Club on Thursday.