SOMETIMES politicians have their uses, if only to make it obvious when a country truly takes its sport seriously.

So while Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron were keeping mysteriously silent on Scotland's cricket triumph on Thursday, when they trounced UAE, no sooner had Afghanistan made much harder work of beating Holland than Ashraf Ghani, the country's president, was on Twitter congratulating the team.

With support like that right across the board, no wonder the Asian side were among the favourites for the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers taking place in Scotland and Ireland over the next couple of weeks, and have already underlined their status with two solid wins to put them top of Pool B after playing a game more than Scotland.

It does mean that if the Scots are to fulfil their ambition of moving back to the top and staying there to win automatic qualification for the World T20 tournament in India next year, they are going to have to get past their biggest pool rivals when the two meet at the Grange tomorrow.

It's hard to judge which goes into the match with the better reasons to be confident. Though there is a direct comparison, since they have both played the UAE, trying to draw meaningful conclusions from comparisons against a common opponent are notoriously misleading. All you can conclude is there is not a lot to choose between the sides.

On a wicket that did not seem to be producing as much movement as it had been the day before, Afghanistan could not put the same stranglehold on UAE as Scotland had managed, and ended out chasing 165 for victory, getting there midway through the 17th over with Mohammad Shazad the batting standout with 74 from 37 balls. Like Scotland the day before, they looked as though they could have got to around the 200 mark if they had needed to.

Before taking on Afghanistan tomorrow afternoon, Scotland have another stiff challenge with Holland their opponents in the morning match. They are already familiar with most of the opposition from the North Sea Pro Series, and if there were ever any danger of complacency, memories of being eliminated from the same tournament two year ago by the Dutch should make sure it is quickly stifled.

Scotland have every reason to feel good about themselves, with four warm-up wins adding to the enthusiastic thrashing they handed out in the tournament's opening fixture. All the leading batsmen have made solid contributions , the fielding has been top class and the two spinners in peak form, but this is the real test.