Pakistan v Afghanistan, one-off ODI, Sharjah February 9, 2012

Afghanistan's remarkable rise achieves new heights

Afghanistan cricket will reach a new high when they take on an ICC Full Member for the first time
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The rise of Afghanistan cricket is, as Tim Anderson puts it, "a wonderful story". Anderson, the ICC's global development manager, has hailed the rise of Afghanistan cricket as "a shining example" and praised the team's remarkable ability to "overcome every challenge that has confronted them".

Afghanistan take the next step in their remarkable journey on Friday when they play Pakistan in an ODI in Sharjah. It is Afghanistan's first ODI against one of the ICC Full Members and the first ODI between a Full Member and an Affiliate nation. A crowd of up to 14,000 is anticipated - more than watched any day of the recently concluded Test series between Pakistan and England in the UAE - and the match will be broadcast to millions more by Ten Sports.

The fact that Afghanistan remains, for now, an Affiliate member of the ICC - the third tier of membership, below the ten Test-playing nations and the 36 Associate nations) speaks volumes for their swift progress. As recently as 2008, they began in Division Five of the World Cricket League, playing the likes of Jersey, Botswana, Vanuatu, Japan and Nepal. They are now in Division One, pitted against Ireland, Kenya, Scotland and the Netherlands.

In Twenty20 cricket, they are already outdoing several Full Member nations. They are ranked ninth, ahead of Zimbabwe and the currently unranked Bangladesh. From a standing start, cricket is already arguably the most popular sport in Afghanistan, with around 50,000 participants, and crowds of up to 5000 watch domestic matches. By any standards, that is remarkable progress.

That said, 2011 was a quiet year. They played only two ODIs, beating Canada on each occasion, having missed out on World Cup qualification because of a system that rewarded success a couple of years previously rather than current merit. They would have enriched the event had they participated.

They did feature in the 2010 World Twenty20, however. While they lost both their games - India and South Africa were the opponents - the experience helped to identify weaknesses that need attention. Their fielding and bowling were fine, but against the pace and bounce of the best international bowlers, there was room for considerable improvement.

There are plans for them to acquire Associate status and, with it, extra ICC funding. Achieving that will depend on far more than playing ability. They will need to prove evidence of sound governance and an administration system, publish accounts, draw up strategic and operational plans, agree upon a constitution, and run annual meetings. A junior development programme would also be a tangible sign that the undoubted enthusiasm that exists for cricket in the county is being put to practical ends. It will be a surprise if Associate status is not achieved before the end of 2013.

At present the ICC provides about $700,000 a year in funding. Based on current distributions, that will rise by around $150,000 once Associate status is assured. There are several other funding sources for cricket in Afghanistan, however, with numerous organisations recognising the positive social influence that sport, and cricket in particular, can play in a country that has experienced so much hardship over the last few decades. The ICC estimates that its funding only equates to about 30% of the money coming into Afghanistan cricket.

It is fitting that Pakistan are the first opponents. The seeds of Afghanistan cricket were sown in Pakistan in the 1980s, when a group of young men, dispossessed by the Soviet occupation of their country, were exposed to the game in refugee camps in Peshawar. Many of the current Afghanistan squad were born or raised in Pakistan after their families fled the war-torn land. Most have now returned home.

The seeds of Afghanistan cricket were sown in Pakistan in the 1980s, when a group of young men, dispossessed by the Soviet occupation of their country, were exposed to the game in refugee camps in Peshawar

Pakistan has, of late, taken a paternal interest in nurturing its neighbour's development. Last year several matches between Afghanistan and Pakistan A provided a gauge of their current progress as well as valuable experience. There may well come a time when Pakistan benefits from this investment too. Several Afghan players might, before long, be attracting the attention of the Pakistan selectors in much the same way that England has benefited from the recent resurgence in Irish cricket.

One man who might well interest the selectors of many international sides is Hamid Hassan. The 24-year-old fast bowler is capable of generating speeds of over 140kph, swings the ball both ways, and when he represented the MCC in 2007, became the first Afghanistan cricketer to play at Lord's. He dismissed Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott in his opening spell while representing the Associate and Affiliate XI against England at the start of their current tour of the UAE and won a contract to play in the Bangladesh Premier League. Sadly, it appears injury will prohibit his involvement in this game.

Mohammad Shahzad, a feisty wicketkeeper-batsman who made half-centuries in both innings of that game against England, is another whose progress should be monitored. Mohammad Nabi, an offspinning allrounder who took five wickets in the match against England, is also a fine cricketer. While Pakistan will be overwhelming favourites in the ODI, victory is no foregone conclusion. As Anderson remarked, when you have experienced bombs, bullets and life in a refugee camp, the "pressure" of a cricket match does not amount to much. Afghanistan will not wilt in the spotlight.

In the medium term, their opportunities to play against full ICC members will depend largely upon qualifying for major events. While there is talk of an ODI against Bangladesh, there are currently no more scheduled games against Full Member nations. The FTP limits the possibilities of such encounters. Afghanistan do, however, have a decent chance of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup - there are four qualifying places up for grabs - while, more immediately, they have an opportunity to qualify for September's World T20 in Sri Lanka. The qualifying tournament - a 16-team event - takes place in the UAE in March. Only two teams will make it.

In the much longer term, it is going to be hard - morally, in particular - to limit the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland to World Cricket League encounters. Promotion and, as a consequence, relegation between the WCL and the Full Member nations seems like an obvious incentive and a way of generating spectator interest. As ever with these things, the self-interest of the main Test-playing nations may delay such a step. In the long term, however, it may well happen.

Cricket is not and never has been all about winning and losing. Whatever happens on Friday, Afghanistan cricket can take enormous pride in the swift progress they have made in recent times and look to the future with a sense of optimism that would have been impossible only a few years ago. Cricket, like Afghanistan as a whole, has many issues; many problems. The example of the Afghanistan cricket team reminds us that the game can transcend them.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vivian_Richard on February 11, 2012, 4:30 GMT

    Really excited bout teams like Afganistan and Ireland. Zimbabwe and Kenya promised a lot but things never really took off from there. It would be awesome to have a proper 'World' cup and see all these teams compete and give the top teams a good run for their money.

  • BowledYa on February 10, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    Well played today Afghanistan! All the best from your Pakistani brothers. We know you have talent as we are used to seeing that coming from our KPK Provence which has produced some of the best Pak players. Good decision from the PCB, hope other permanent members follow suit.

  • anderson1212 on February 10, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Even though Afghanistan lost to Pakistan today but I am really impressed by their sprit and raw talent. A country in war for three decades but still this talented is really impressive. Watch it India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka the new kid on the block in Asia is Afghanistan and it is rising fast, off course I don't count Bangladesh as a team. Afghanistan in the next 5 years will be a team to beat. Go Afghanistan I love you guys.

  • Indian_Fan09 on February 10, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    @cric4life88 on

    Will have to disagree with you. Yes Nepal's economy is not the best one, but the fans out there are crazy when it comes to support their national teams!! Im sure the stadium would be full to the limit or even over it whereas you struggle to get people in stadiums of test playing nations!! geographically nepal is very divers. Many people tend to ignore that it has a long stretch of plains where cricket is perfectly feasible!! It can be easily played in major cities. the infrastructure is what is lacking. If ACC or even BCCI helps, im sure the government and nepalese cricket board (CAN) will try its best!!

    Comparing to US, the advantage of developing cricket in Nepal is you dont have to publicize and marketize what cricket, and how it is played to people. They already know what it is and they are already crazy about it and their team!!

    If you host a match US v Pak or Nepal V Pak, Im sure the nepali fans will outnumber US fans by a landslide!!

  • cric4life88 on February 10, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    @Samar_Singh & realhotshady: I agree with you totally but I would look at Nepal's geographic location, economy, infrastructure, etc. we can then all agree that when comparing it to The States, it doesn't hold up as a good candidate to invest in. If U.S recognizes the sport of Cricket which could withhold among other famous sports such as Baseball, Basketball, Football, I think Cricket could follow the footsteps of Soccer which took a while to get popular in the States. Now U.S has a decent Soccer team and they all are native players. There are many U.S born young talents but would get chance due to politics which is totally different topic to talk about. Anyways, back to our topic...I agree with you but what I just said is also viable...Hope you agree.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on February 10, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Very proud of these lads. They play good, strong cricket, have strong characters, are up for a challenge and always give it their best. Today, they took on Ajmal and the Pakistan quicks with some style. However, Boom Boom is back in town, so that wasn't to be a longer fairytale - but this is hopefully the start of a new force in world cricket

  • doubtingthomas on February 10, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Yeah, we need a new team to cheer for, now that India are almost finished.

  • on February 10, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Unless u give teams like afghanistan a chance,,i bet u can,t see the tendulkars,akrams,shoaib akhtars,ponting etc,,,,,i do hope the multi talented side of afghanistan gets a lot of polishing from pak today....cheers

  • Samar_Singh on February 10, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @Realhotshady : 100% agree to your notes . Its Nepal only how is playing with all native players unlike other ACC associate member teams with most player of foreign origins.. Nepal has shown enough talents in age level both in men and women category beating test teams like SA, Pak, New Zealand etc in different age groups .. today Nepal is playing final for the 3rd consecutive time in women's U-19 T20 ACC cup and they are the winners in 2 previous occasions. They will make a hat-trick today .. Does not this speak of the pool of talent Nepal has got ?? Why on Earth ICC wants to push USA before Nepal like teams which do not have a single player from its origin.. Only due to BCCI these things are happening cause all the player playing from US will be either Indians or from some other countries.. No sport will develop unless the natives are involved in it .. All the best Afghans.. Had Nepal got some good support from ICC/ACC/BCCI it would have already been ICC full member and playing ODIs.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on February 10, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    All the best Afganistan...if Pakistan going to take them lightly and going to place a B team, we can expect a grand entry of Afgan...hope Pakistan will do that mistake...:)

  • Vivian_Richard on February 11, 2012, 4:30 GMT

    Really excited bout teams like Afganistan and Ireland. Zimbabwe and Kenya promised a lot but things never really took off from there. It would be awesome to have a proper 'World' cup and see all these teams compete and give the top teams a good run for their money.

  • BowledYa on February 10, 2012, 20:03 GMT

    Well played today Afghanistan! All the best from your Pakistani brothers. We know you have talent as we are used to seeing that coming from our KPK Provence which has produced some of the best Pak players. Good decision from the PCB, hope other permanent members follow suit.

  • anderson1212 on February 10, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    Even though Afghanistan lost to Pakistan today but I am really impressed by their sprit and raw talent. A country in war for three decades but still this talented is really impressive. Watch it India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka the new kid on the block in Asia is Afghanistan and it is rising fast, off course I don't count Bangladesh as a team. Afghanistan in the next 5 years will be a team to beat. Go Afghanistan I love you guys.

  • Indian_Fan09 on February 10, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    @cric4life88 on

    Will have to disagree with you. Yes Nepal's economy is not the best one, but the fans out there are crazy when it comes to support their national teams!! Im sure the stadium would be full to the limit or even over it whereas you struggle to get people in stadiums of test playing nations!! geographically nepal is very divers. Many people tend to ignore that it has a long stretch of plains where cricket is perfectly feasible!! It can be easily played in major cities. the infrastructure is what is lacking. If ACC or even BCCI helps, im sure the government and nepalese cricket board (CAN) will try its best!!

    Comparing to US, the advantage of developing cricket in Nepal is you dont have to publicize and marketize what cricket, and how it is played to people. They already know what it is and they are already crazy about it and their team!!

    If you host a match US v Pak or Nepal V Pak, Im sure the nepali fans will outnumber US fans by a landslide!!

  • cric4life88 on February 10, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    @Samar_Singh & realhotshady: I agree with you totally but I would look at Nepal's geographic location, economy, infrastructure, etc. we can then all agree that when comparing it to The States, it doesn't hold up as a good candidate to invest in. If U.S recognizes the sport of Cricket which could withhold among other famous sports such as Baseball, Basketball, Football, I think Cricket could follow the footsteps of Soccer which took a while to get popular in the States. Now U.S has a decent Soccer team and they all are native players. There are many U.S born young talents but would get chance due to politics which is totally different topic to talk about. Anyways, back to our topic...I agree with you but what I just said is also viable...Hope you agree.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on February 10, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    Very proud of these lads. They play good, strong cricket, have strong characters, are up for a challenge and always give it their best. Today, they took on Ajmal and the Pakistan quicks with some style. However, Boom Boom is back in town, so that wasn't to be a longer fairytale - but this is hopefully the start of a new force in world cricket

  • doubtingthomas on February 10, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Yeah, we need a new team to cheer for, now that India are almost finished.

  • on February 10, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    Unless u give teams like afghanistan a chance,,i bet u can,t see the tendulkars,akrams,shoaib akhtars,ponting etc,,,,,i do hope the multi talented side of afghanistan gets a lot of polishing from pak today....cheers

  • Samar_Singh on February 10, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    @Realhotshady : 100% agree to your notes . Its Nepal only how is playing with all native players unlike other ACC associate member teams with most player of foreign origins.. Nepal has shown enough talents in age level both in men and women category beating test teams like SA, Pak, New Zealand etc in different age groups .. today Nepal is playing final for the 3rd consecutive time in women's U-19 T20 ACC cup and they are the winners in 2 previous occasions. They will make a hat-trick today .. Does not this speak of the pool of talent Nepal has got ?? Why on Earth ICC wants to push USA before Nepal like teams which do not have a single player from its origin.. Only due to BCCI these things are happening cause all the player playing from US will be either Indians or from some other countries.. No sport will develop unless the natives are involved in it .. All the best Afghans.. Had Nepal got some good support from ICC/ACC/BCCI it would have already been ICC full member and playing ODIs.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on February 10, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    All the best Afganistan...if Pakistan going to take them lightly and going to place a B team, we can expect a grand entry of Afgan...hope Pakistan will do that mistake...:)

  • Realhotshady on February 10, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    If India had supported Nepal in past as Pakistan is doing for Afghanistan, Nepal would have already been playing at least 2 world cups. But India don't want to see their neighbors progress unlike Pakistan. Nepalese team is made up of 11 native players unlike Afghanistan, Hongkong or UAE where the players are mainly of Indian and Pakistan origin. Yet there is super talent but no help from anybody....

  • on February 10, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    as today afghanistan and pakistan are playing thier first odi..we hope from other test nations to give afg more opurtinities and play with them .specially from asian countries such as..INDIA...BANGLADESH..SRILINKA...

  • Waewick on February 10, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    so who is betting that Afganstian are rushed into test cricket by the ICC whilst Ireland get left out.

  • thejusjosephjose on February 10, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    ALL THE BEST TO AFGHANISTAN...CONGRATULATIONS TO PAKISTAN FOR THEIR OPEN HEART TO PLAY WITH AFGHANISTAN...FROM AN INDIAN CRICKET FAN

  • Charindra on February 10, 2012, 5:26 GMT

    Best of luck Afghanistan! Your story is heartwarming :)

  • RDLikesCricket on February 10, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Watched the Documentary "Out of the Ashes" on Afghan cricket and their rise to fame and entry to the T20 WC. Amazing story of strong hearted individuals showing passion for the game. Maybe the ICC can employ some good coaches to train them at various venues to give them exposure. As someone in the thread mentioned, the cricket world would be happy to see them succeed like Sri Lanka rather than tread the Zimbabwe line. Good Luck Afghanistan.

  • topeleven on February 10, 2012, 3:14 GMT

    I am from India and die hard fan of Cricket. Welcome Afghanistan. But the sad thing is they don't find themselves in any FTP's. If ICC is committed against growing cricket they should be more one day games with in a short span of time against all test playing nations. Just one game against all countries will make them play 9odis a year. They can really feel they belong to this game and can improve. But just asking them to play directly in a world cup is too heavy. If there is a game for India against australia or srilanka and afghanistant play pakistan, My preference will be afghanistan's match

  • ausfor4 on February 10, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    As a half Aussie, half Pom, living in America with Pakistani and Indian friends to play cricket with, I see more to Cricket than just sport; it is an avenue for people of all cultures to share a common interest. Good luck to both teams tomorrow!

  • BUTT_093 on February 10, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    Hoping for an exciting contest tomorrow as I believe Afghanistan has the ability to give Pakistan a run for their money. Some of their players have already played and impressed against England in these conditions in the warm up match at the start of the tour and it'll be ill-advised that Pakistan take them lightly. Nevertheless hoping for an exciting clash between hopefully 2 future subcontinental rivals.

  • cric4life88 on February 10, 2012, 2:45 GMT

    This great news for the nation and the cricket world. A prime example in recent times. This team is for sure better than U.S., Canada, and Kenya. Team is many youngsters too, with better facility and good coaching, this team will do good. U.S should learn something from this as well. well, its too early to say but expectations are there.

  • satanswish on February 10, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    All the best Afghanistan & welcome move by Pakistan to give them exposure to International cricket. Hope Pakistan wouldn't find it hard to win after offering whitewash to 'Fakes No.1' in test series.

  • umair1970 on February 10, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    Seeing Afghanistan go from unknown to underdog to contender has been pure joy!

    A die hard Pakistani Fan, I will be rooting for Afghanistan all the way tomorrow!

  • LSAF on February 10, 2012, 0:04 GMT

    It is great to see so many positive comment comments from both Afghan and Pakistani fans. This is a match between friends and brothers rather than rivals, regardless of the result!!!

  • KarachiBoy on February 9, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    Being a Pakistan supporter, I have nothing but praise for Afghanistan and their progress. I would love to see them become more and more competitive as they progress. Hopefully they'll follow the lead of Sri Lanka rather than Bangladesh in their progress as the example to follow for teams whose establishment is owed to Pakistan.

  • Munkeymomo on February 9, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    Afghanistan cricket has really been one of the uplifting and inspiring stories of the last few years. It's great to see them progressing so well and I've no doubt they will prove worthy opponents and provide a great account for associates and affiliates cricket. It does bemuse me why there isn't more one off ODI matches between full-members and associates/affiliates and full members, like in football. Or perhaps associates involved in tri-series instead of a full member who will play the other two teams in the same calendar year anyway.

  • Guduji71 on February 9, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    It is nice to see Afghanistan to come up and play with full members. I am Pakistani but wish good luck to Afghanistan. Come on you have the talent to challenge them. You are our good neighbours & brothers and we want an other Asian team to shine on the world map of cricket.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 9, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    ICC exective board should agree on one point that all test playing nations will each year play at least two ODI against associate or affiliate teams.But then why should they? these greedy people only think about money.

  • smudgeon on February 9, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    It's important that there is growth in cricket, otherwise things stagnate - new teams bring new perspectives, styles, and a shot of blood to the game. I watched a doco a few months back about the Afghani team, they sure bring an enthusiasm, joy and pure love for the game which seems a little lacking in the T20 era where attitude & bank balance are more important. It's a long shot for them to get past a Pakistani team which is starting to look dangerously good, but I expect them to give no quarter (and get none), and all the while playing in the right spirit. I'd love to see these guys tour Australia & play some first class cricket against domestic teams &/or the Aus A side. Good luck tonight, guys!

  • MrArmchairCricket on February 9, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    Best of luck to the Afghans. While I expect Pakistan to win the match, I think it'll be a lot closer than the NZ/Zimbabwe match yesterday.

  • rahulcricket007 on February 9, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    A MATCH B/W INDIA & AFGHANISTAN WILL BE A THRILLER TO WATCH . WITH BOTH TEAMS ARE MINNOWS .

  • dnarmstrong on February 9, 2012, 20:18 GMT

    Go Afghanistan, would be fantastic to see this team become a competitive international outfit and have their whole country behind them

  • ERROR_CODE00 on February 9, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    Afghanistan! I wish you all the best... looking forward to game... I hope it's a quality game... no matter who wins... it will help the Afghanistan team to build up...and show you your weak points, which you can work out later on... I hope Afghanistan gets a good infrastructure as they have a lot of potential and they have shown it a lot leaping from division 5 up to division 1. Pakistan has helped them a lot and I hope they will help them in the future too. Pakistan should welcome them in their first class cricket so that Afg. players can play along with them and develop their game... Best of luck!

  • RamaAf-Gun on February 9, 2012, 19:59 GMT

    cant wait to see the results tomorrow.... well let's be clear it's Afghanistan's first ODi against a test nation... so we even if we (afghans) lose it wouldn't concern me because afghanistan bn playing cricket for the last several years and they have achieved a lot if you compare it to other associated teams. Also i just want to remind everyone that when Afghanistan lost their last t/20 international in carribean match to South africa it was poor batting otherwise they bowled well against SA as they were reduced to under-140 or somfing like that... so yes i am worried about afghanistan's batting NOT bowling. i hope it's a tough and gd match.

  • SamAsh07 on February 9, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    Pakistan should definitely play the big names like Afridi, Ajmal, Rehman & Gul, not for an easy victory but I'm talking about the benefits Afghanistan will earn from this match, Pakistan should go in with full strength team so that Afghanistan is exposed to high class bowling and batting. It'll help them in gaining experience for future ODIs. I'm pretty sure the current Afghanistan team can topple Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

  • Asifindaze on February 9, 2012, 19:17 GMT

    it is just a start 4 new comer, hope there future is very bright

  • doctornikki on February 9, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    pak-afghan brotherhood zindabaad

  • Hayes.Adam on February 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Its early days so there's no pressure and not much expectation, good luck Team Afghanistan.

  • yorkshirematt on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Should be interesting. Not sure about the make-up of the afghan team but if they have a few spinners they would be a good match for our (english) lot.

  • Ajayvs on February 9, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    All the best for the Afganistan team. My wishes are with you. Every body want your team to put up a good show.

  • ansram on February 9, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Great for Afghanistan and all the best. But one thing. It is relatively easy for a nation like Afghanistan to rise rapidly early on ( just like a start up company) because there is little pressure or expectations. The players have very little passion for money and play cricket for the playing pleasure. The growth can be rapid in this phase if there is talent, which Afghanistan definitely has. When they move into the top tier, there will be presssure,expectations and a lot of money at stake which will change the outlook of the players. Once they break into the top ten teams, they will find that progress is very difficult and they would need to build a much better infrastructure to take down test playing nations. Afghanistan can be compared to SL which made rapid progress but once they reached the top tier they did not find the going easy especially in test matches. They can spring a surprise on a test playing nation now but consistancy would be difficult for them right now.

  • Baktash on February 9, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    That was a great piece of article George. It very much covered the past, present and, to some extent, the future of Afghan cricket. Very nicely written and quite informative.

  • Zianswati on February 9, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    good to see afghan team in sharajh

  • jibzz_100 on February 9, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    GOOD AFGHANISTAN.......GO AHEAD.....

  • jibzz_100 on February 9, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    I HOPE AFGHANISTAN WILL BE FAR MORE BETTER THAN BANGALIS AND ZIMBABWIANS......good progress...go ahead Afghanistan.

  • Stark62 on February 9, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    My starting 11 for Pak would be: Hafeez, Azhar, Umar (wkt), Shafiq, Misbah (unfortunately), Afridi, Hammad, Riaz, Gul, Ajmal, Rehman (if turning)/Junaid (bowls great yorkers).

    3 spinners and 3 seamers plus, I think it's time we gave a youngster a chance in the ODI's instead of Younis because his not getting any younger and already has a poor average of 32 or something in ODI's.

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  • Stark62 on February 9, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    My starting 11 for Pak would be: Hafeez, Azhar, Umar (wkt), Shafiq, Misbah (unfortunately), Afridi, Hammad, Riaz, Gul, Ajmal, Rehman (if turning)/Junaid (bowls great yorkers).

    3 spinners and 3 seamers plus, I think it's time we gave a youngster a chance in the ODI's instead of Younis because his not getting any younger and already has a poor average of 32 or something in ODI's.

  • jibzz_100 on February 9, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    I HOPE AFGHANISTAN WILL BE FAR MORE BETTER THAN BANGALIS AND ZIMBABWIANS......good progress...go ahead Afghanistan.

  • jibzz_100 on February 9, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    GOOD AFGHANISTAN.......GO AHEAD.....

  • Zianswati on February 9, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    good to see afghan team in sharajh

  • Baktash on February 9, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    That was a great piece of article George. It very much covered the past, present and, to some extent, the future of Afghan cricket. Very nicely written and quite informative.

  • ansram on February 9, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    Great for Afghanistan and all the best. But one thing. It is relatively easy for a nation like Afghanistan to rise rapidly early on ( just like a start up company) because there is little pressure or expectations. The players have very little passion for money and play cricket for the playing pleasure. The growth can be rapid in this phase if there is talent, which Afghanistan definitely has. When they move into the top tier, there will be presssure,expectations and a lot of money at stake which will change the outlook of the players. Once they break into the top ten teams, they will find that progress is very difficult and they would need to build a much better infrastructure to take down test playing nations. Afghanistan can be compared to SL which made rapid progress but once they reached the top tier they did not find the going easy especially in test matches. They can spring a surprise on a test playing nation now but consistancy would be difficult for them right now.

  • Ajayvs on February 9, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    All the best for the Afganistan team. My wishes are with you. Every body want your team to put up a good show.

  • yorkshirematt on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Should be interesting. Not sure about the make-up of the afghan team but if they have a few spinners they would be a good match for our (english) lot.

  • Hayes.Adam on February 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Its early days so there's no pressure and not much expectation, good luck Team Afghanistan.

  • doctornikki on February 9, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    pak-afghan brotherhood zindabaad