Afghans aim for 2015 cricket WC

2010-06-24 09:32

War-torn Afghanistan has set its sights on playing in major

cricketing events in future as part of a goal of qualifying for the World Cup in

2015.

For Coach Kabit Khan, it starts with the team playing in next

month’s International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League division 1 in

the Netherlands. Canada, Ireland and Kenya along with host Netherlands will also

take part.

Khan says the tournament “will be a launching pad for our

unfulfilled dreams which is to qualify for the World Cup in 2015”.

The coach has also targeted Twenty20 World Cup in 2012 and

2014.

Afghanistan played in the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies

this year and gave a respectable performance against cricketing powers South

Africa and India before bowing out.

Last year, Afghanistan got a major boost when it got first-class

status until 2013 and this year it won the Twenty20 World Cup qualifier in the

United Arab Emirates.

Khan felt that last year’s division 1 League in South Africa was

the starting point for the team’s later success: “We narrowly missed the

opportunity to qualify for the 2011 World Cup but we got the opportunity to play

in the World Twenty20 qualifiers before realising our dreams of playing in a

major global tournament.”

Afghanistan’s progress to the international stage has been the

feel-good cricket story over the past 12 months.

It won three out of four ICC

Intercontinental Cup matches and won half its one-day internationals.

Khan will include several fresh faces in the Netherlands tournament

as part of his ongoing bid to infuse the team with new talent.

Mirwais Ashraf, Shabir Ahmad Noori, Aftab Alam and Mohammad Jawed

Ahmadi are among those inducted in the squad for the tournament.

Ashraf and Noori played in the Twenty20 World Cup while Alam and

Ahmadi were members of the team that participated in the under-19 World Cup in

New Zealand earlier this year.

Khan said: “We have to rotate players so that we can develop a

bench-strength which is strong, ready to step up and take over from the seniors

as and when they decide to call it a day.

“It also helps bring competitiveness within the side as the players

start realizing that they can’t take things for granted.”

Khan attributes Afghanistan’s rising stature to its consistency the

past year: “Today, if people talk about us and consider us as a side that is

capable of beating anyone, it is chiefly because of the number of matches we

have won.

“Had we started losing immediately after the South Africa

tournament, people would have questioned our status and asked if we really

deserved to be here.”

Khan said he is not going into the Netherlands tournament expecting

any easy matches, mostly because many of the teams are experienced: “It will

come down to how quickly we adopt to the conditions.

Our bowlers have performed

consistently well over the past 15 months but it has been the batting which at

times as given us headaches.”


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