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April 26, 2010
Afghanistan may have a tough time in the World Twenty20, being slotted in the same group as former champions India, and South Africa, but their coach Kabir Khan, a former Pakistan international, is confident of upsetting the formbook.
"We are excited about facing India. We have been working hard and we want to give them a big fight. We will make it hard for them and hope to make an upset. We are not just going there just to participate," Kabir told AFP.
This will be Afghanistan's first experience of the big stage, and Kabir is preparing them for the challenges, both on and off the field. "Our team is mentally very strong. We have lectures on how to keep calm in front of the cameras and playing in front of big crowds. Wherever we go, we play in front of crowds who support us. But at the big tournaments, they have to get used to fans cheering against them as well," Kabir said.
Allrounder Asghar Stanikzai believes that the pressure is on the other teams since Afghanistan have nothing to lose. "We're kind of the underdog for our group and the pressure is actually really on South Africa and India as to them we're the unknown quantity to take on in this tournament," he said. "We just want to go out there and enjoy each game we play. We're quite excited, we've been waiting for a while to be able to prove ourselves in a big tournament and we've worked really hard to get there and we're really looking forward to the experience."
Batsman Raees Ahmadzai had echoed Kabir and Stanikzai in his predictions for the tournament. "We won't be going out there just for fun," he said. "In Twenty20 cricket anything can happen. It is a form of cricket that we know very well and we will not be easy to beat."
Afghanistan made the cut for the tournament by winning the qualifying tournament in the United Arab Emirates. They begin their campaign against India in St. Lucia on May 1 and then meet South Africa in Barbados on May 5.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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