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March 20, 2008
India's win over Australia in the CB Series and their impressive showing in the Test series will spur other Asian countries, says Ashraful Huq, the chief executive of the Asian Cricket Council.
"India beating Australia is very good for cricket in Asia and will encourage nations like Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, China and Afghanistan," Huq, a former secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, told AFP. "I watched both the finals in Australia and was amazed how the young Indian team paid the Australians back, both on and off the field."
Huq was looking forward to seeing six Asian teams take part in the 14-nation World Cup in 2011, which will be held on the subcontinent. "We hope minor nations take a leaf out of India's book. We hope that two Asian teams, other than the four top nations who play directly, qualify for the World Cup 2011," he said. The qualifiers for the 2011 World Cup will be held in Dubai next year.
The inclusion of cricket as a medal sport in the 2010 Asian Games in China will boost the game, he said. "China is improving by leaps and bounds and cricket's inclusion in the Asian Games will open new avenues for the game. I can say with confidence that the Chinese women's team will give top nations a tough fight very soon," he said. "Cricket is spreading fast in China and we hope that once they get their team in the top competitions, the game will flourish in their market and help our cause."
He picked out Afghanistan as another country that could surprise major cricketing nations in the future, and felt they needed a good coach to mentor their players. "We have asked Afghanistan to hire a good coach, we have in fact offered them a good coach, but they have not yet decided on it. Their players are very talented but they lack cricket knowledge.
"Afghanistan could have qualified for the Asia Cup 2008 instead of Hong Kong but they lost the semi-final because they wanted to reach their 150-plus target in just 10 overs which showed their lack of knowledge."
Huq praised Pakistan for their support to Afghanistan and China. "Pakistan have helped both China and Afghanistan by giving them equipment, have given China a very good coach [Rashid Khan, the former Test player] and given tours to the Afghanistan team in the past, so other top nations are also willing to help them."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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