Dubai November 12, 2009

Afghanistan and China in Asian Twenty20 Cup

Afghanistan will be hoping to build on their success at the World Cup qualifiers © Getty Images

Afghanistan and China will be star attractions in the 12-nation Asian Twenty20 Cup which starts in Dubai on November 22.

Afghanistan surprised the world by finishing among the top six in the 2011 World Cup qualifying tournament to gain one-day international status earlier this year, while China will be making their debut in an Asian Twenty20 event.

The tournament serves as a qualifying round for next year's Asian Games and Mazhar Khan, administrator of Emirates Cricket Board, is hoping it will help expand cricket in Asia. "It's great to have China and Afghanistan in the event and a step forward towards promoting the game in Asia."

Sharjah and Abu Dhabi will host the matches from which the top three teams will join Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the 2010 Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China. Twenty20 cricket became an Asian Games sport after it was approved by the Olympic Council of Asia in May, a decision that could bring Twenty20 closer to full Olympic status.

Alongside China and Afghanistan, teams from Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Singapore, Qatar, Hong Kong, Nepal, Saudi Arab, Malaysia and Bahrain will compete in the event which runs until November 30.

Khan believes the Cup will also help Asian teams tune up for the World Twenty20 qualifiers to be held in the UAE in February next year.

"These teams will have some good preparations for the World Twenty20 qualifiers from where two teams will get a place in the third World Twenty20 Cup to be held in the West Indies next year.”

Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo