Playing Australia a 'big occasion' - Mangal
Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal has termed Saturday's one-day match against Australia a "big occasion" for the team. The match is Afghanistan's only second against a Full Member country after becoming eligible for ODI cricket.
"Definitely, it's a big occasion for us and we want to make the best use of it," Mangal said. "We have done well against Scotland and Ireland but given a chance against Australia is a big thing and we are excited about it."
Afghanistan have played 22 ODIs in the last three years, winning 12. But their only previous match against a Full Member side was when they played Pakistan in Sharjah in February this year. Australia, who are playing a limited-overs series against Pakistan in the UAE from August 28, agreed to play the match against Afghanistan in an effort to assist with their cricketing development.
"We are thankful to Australia and to the ICC for making this possible," Mangal said. "Australia are real champions and hopefully we can put up a good show. Definitely it's our dream to play matches against top teams and if we get such chances regularly our players will improve."
Afghanistan have made good progress in the recent years. They played World Twenty20 in 2010 and will appear in this year's event in Sri Lanka in September. However, the chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, Hamid Shinwari, said that the team would need continued support from the cricketing world to develop the game in the country.
"The support of the ACC and the ICC is very helpful in developing the game in Afghanistan but we expect more from the world because cricket is more than a game in Afghanistan," Shinwari said. "Cricket gives hope to millions of people in our country and we want to improve in this game."