SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates: Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan is pleading with India and Pakistan to help his team make an impact in their maiden World Cup appearance in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.
Afghanistan booked their place in the game’s global showpiece by beating Kenya by seven wickets on Friday and now will look for crucial support from defending champions India and 1992 winners Pakistan.
“I would like to play more against the Full Member countries in the lead up to the World Cup,” said former Pakistan Test player Kabir, wary of the generally faster pitches in Australia and seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand.
“I’m expecting that our neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan will play some matches against us and help us prepare for our biggest tournament.”
Afghanistan were playing in the fifth tier of international cricket just five years ago and have twice qualified for the World Twenty20 tournament, in 2010 and 2012.
But one-day clashes with the world’s leading nations have been limited to just two -- a seven-wicket loss to Pakistan and a 66-run defeat to Australia in Sharjah in 2012.
“I’m expecting a great response in Australia and New Zealand. The big teams will like to punish us but we’ll prepare as best as we can and try to show the world what we’re capable of,” added Kabir.
It will be a tough mission for Afghanistan who will play in Group A in the 2015 World Cup alongside four-time champions Australia, co-hosts New Zealand, Bangladesh, England, Sri Lanka and another qualifier that will be confirmed in February next year at the final qualifying round in New Zealand. On Friday, Afghanistan dismissed Kenya for just 93 in the 44th over before they reached their target in the 21st over when captain Mohammad Nabi hit Shem Ngoche for a boundary through midwicket. Nabi, who finished on 46 not out, and Hashmatullah Shaidi, put on 62 for the fourth wicket to bring their side home with 175 balls to spare. AFP