Afghanistan v SA, Group C, World T20, Barbados May 5, 2010

Far from humiliated, Afghanistan want more matches


Eliminated but far from embarrassed. Afghanistan need feel no shame at all as they depart the World Twenty20. Getting here was one of the sporting stories of all time and they certainly haven't disgraced themselves against India and South Africa. Now their coach, Kabir Khan, wants the cricketing world to embrace Afghanistan and help them sustain their development by inviting the team for one-day and Twenty20 matches.

Afghanistan can't play matches at home - and it will be years until they can - and facilities are limited to one grass pitch so it will need wholehearted philanthropy from the global game to help. They currently have ODI status and Khan called on the top nations to give his side a chance in limited-overs matches to ensure the players' growth can continue.

"They have to play a lot more than a game or two. We've got ODI status and we can play Twenty20 internationals against any country in the world so the teams need to invite us," Khan said. "They could invite players for training camps, they could invite them into the domestic games as professional or semi-professional, we don't mind, but they should play cricket.

"We want all the big cricket countries to help us in that. We've got talent, the boys are quite ready. They are quick learners and we expect that all the cricket nations watching us will help in that regard."

Khan hopes that being on television in front of millions will have been the ideal shop window for a number of his players and that they might attract interest from overseas. "It was good to see them on the television and they have been exposed," he said.

"As a coach that's what I'm happy about because we want them to play tough professional cricket in other countries with a contract in South Africa, Australia, England or India. The main aim is to play for their country, but to get professional cricket they have to play the top countries. If you want to get used to facing the likes of [Dale] Steyn or [Morne] Morkel, or anyone on top of the world, they have to play against them in domestic cricket."

When the Afghanistan chase crashed to 32 for 8 against the type of pace bowling they'd never seen before it appeared they would leave with the unwanted record of the lowest Twenty20 international score. However, spirit and fight oozes through the line-up and gutsy innings from Mirwais Ashraf and Hamid Hassan, who earlier bowled superbly to take 3 for 21, hauled them above Kenya's 67.

"They were really quick, bowling at 90mph and there was swing as well so it was very difficult for our batsmen to face them," captain Nowroz Mangal said. "They got early wickets and took the game from us."

And there was some style about the lower-order display, too, as the ninth-wicket pair hit four sixes between them, including one by Ashraf, off Albie Morkel, that cleared the Garry Sobers Pavilion and bounced into the net area. That followed a highly accomplished bowling display where South Africa were made to work hard for each of their 139 runs with Jacques Kallis' 34 the top score as Mangal led from the front with three fine catches.

Hassan lived up to his billing as the team's poster boy with a display of death bowling as good as anything in the tournament so far. He, along with allrounder Mohammad Nabi, are two Afghanistan players who have had a taste of cricket overseas after they both were part of the MCC Young Cricketers scheme, while Nabi also plays domestically in Pakistan.

"As a coach I am quite satisfied with their performance against the two top nations in the world - cricket wise and facilities wise - and they performed well," Khan said. "Against India there was all sorts of pressure on them; there was television, there were the big stars, there was the crowd and they coped with it very well. Today, to restrict a batting line-up like South Africa to 139 is a big achievement so there are all sorts of pluses for them.

"The key is they need to be exposed to that pressure again and again and then they'll get used to it. On a bowling machine you can put it to 90mph but you can't have Dale Steyn bowling at you and swinging the ball. So you have to face those bowlers to get the experience. Because my team are quick learners when they play against South Africa or India again they will do much better."

From the summit of playing South Africa at one of world's finest cricket grounds Afghanistan now step back to the Associate level which they are beginning to dominate, but this experience will have left with them with a lifetime of memories. Now they want some help to make sure they come back again.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fanofcricket123 on May 6, 2010, 23:22 GMT

    i have a gut feeling that onlinegamer55 is shane warne!

    Afghan players did a wonderful job...I sincerely hope they are treated as heroes when they go back home because these are the people that children of afghanistan need to look up to, instead of taking the wrong path and losing their life, country and identity....I also congratulate this cricket team for playing and having fun in the field without being overawed by the reputation of their opponents...i do not recall any other cricketing minnows bowling so well against top quality opposition although their batting was on expected lines...

  • DesiCricketfan on May 6, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    Afghanistan has done better than any team which were considered as minnows or associates. Afghani's were far better than Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Ireland. We all hope that they play in IPL but truth of the matter is they will be considered as foreign nationals and no Franchisee will risk a Kevin Petersen, keiron Pollard, Jacques Kallis, etc... over Afghanistan Players. I think they will be playing the 50-over word cup and i give them my best wishes as long as they do not knock India out of the world cup LOL... Good Luck Afghanistan you not only have impressed your country but have impressed all the big nations.

  • thefridgeuae on May 6, 2010, 14:49 GMT

    Based on previous first up performances by a cricking minnow I was impressed with Afghanistan. They left arm quick looked very sharp, their spinners were sound and Noor Ali looks the goods at the top of the order. They need to play more against the test nations. They would challenge the lower ranked test nations, and would steal a win or two over time. Lots of potential that needs to be fostered. Come on ICC, do you job and make teams play these guys. They could base their home games out of Dubai I think could be more competitive very soon.

  • Ajayvs on May 6, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    I was about sleep after the Australia-Bangladesh match yesterday.I decided to see a couple of overs of the Afganistan-SA match.Once the match started i couldnt swithch off the T.V.The spirit of the Afganistan team was evident.They were bowling like Pros and fielding with a lot of zeal.Hats of to them for getting this far and giving such good fight to seasoned teams like India and SA.There batting looks a bit suspect but the bowling has variety and quality.All the best Team Afganistan and Congrats for the good show.

  • dummy4fb on May 6, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    I think many of the Afghan players deserve contracts in the IPL. It will allow them to play alongside other International cricketers, learn all variety of skills and encourage youngsters in Afghanistan to take up the game.

  • dummy4fb on May 6, 2010, 13:12 GMT

    Afghanistan is a really determined team, and I wish them all the best in world cricket! I say bring them to SA and let them play some domestic cricket here! They have a very good bowling attack that can only get better! Here's to more cricket from Afghanistan! I think they have what it takes to be better than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe!

  • dummy4fb on May 6, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    I request to BCCI afghani players play in IPL in this season.

  • dummy4fb on May 6, 2010, 11:17 GMT

    afghanistan is a good team .specially afghnistan bowling is very well.shapoor zadran and hamid hassan is very fast bowlers and good seamers.there are many facilities is not avialable in afghanistan eg domistic cricket first class cricket . i request to bcci plz place him in this year auction plz buy afghani player .

  • Venkat_Super_11 on May 6, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    When Mirwais Ashraf departed after clearing the boundary couple of times he must have been proud of what he had achieved yesterday. However, when Dale Steyn shook Mirwais' hands as a token of appreciation, not only Mirwais must have flown over the moon but also it emphasised the spirit of cricket from a legend like Steyn. Dale is aggresive, committed and intelligent but he also showed his spirit of cricket and professionalism. I am sure Mirwais must have felt (as I do) that Dale's shaking his hands was his best reward.

    By the way, good article and also emotional request from the Afghan's coach.

  • onlinegamer55 on May 6, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    While it is an ideal situation for Afghanistan to play higher ranked teams, it isn't realistic. At the moment, neither Bangladesh nor Zimbabwe can consistently get enough games against decent opposition and both teams are test playing nations. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for these players to get a go against stronger nations but the problem is that, further than mere "sympathy", no-one wants to see low scoring (boring) matches. When West Indies toured Australia earlier in the year, barely 1000 people came to watch; West Indies got rolled over for 140 almost every time, and they are not a bad team by any exaggeration of the word having challenged Australia in the tests. Afghanistan look like they'll get rolled over for less than 30 again and again and again. That would be neither good for cricket nor their confidence. Perhaps after 5-6 years they should be granted the privelege of playing higher teams but certainly not now. Their batsmen are terrible against short-pitched bowling.

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