Afghanistan hope to achieve Test status by building on the success they have had in the Twenty20 format, allrounder Mohammad Nabi has said. Afghanistan have qualified for the World Twenty20 for the second time running, and Nabi said the next step was Test cricket.
"We really hope that we are granted Test status as we are playing so well and also we have such a fanatical following in Afghanistan," Nabi told PakPassion.net. "We will try our best by playing good cricket in the coming months to show the world and ICC that we deserve Test status."
Afghanistan have also shown progress in four-day cricket; they won the last edition of the Intercontinental Cup, and beat Canada before drawing against the UAE in the ongoing edition.
After winning eight straight games in the World T20 qualifiers, Afghanistan will make an appearance in the main event, which will be played in Sri Lanka in September-October 2012. In the 2010 World T20, Afghanistan had failed to win a single match, and Nabi said the immediate challenge on the road towards long-term goals would be to compete with the stronger opposition in their group. They will play the final of the qualifiers on March 24, against Ireland, and Nabi is hoping for a win, which would put Afghanistan in Group B in the World T20, along with Australia and West Indies.*
"Of course, we will try our best to win the tournament but realistically we would like to win against Australia and West Indies; give them as tough a time as possible and, god willing, qualify for the next round and then take it from there."
A loss in the final would mean Afghanistan would be in Group A, with India and England.
Nabi said the success in cricket had brought joy to the masses in Afghanistan and was a widely discussed topic across the country.
"This is the second time we have qualified for the ICC World T20 event and everyone at home is happy; we have made our nation proud and are very proud of our achievements. People have been calling me from the UAE and Afghanistan to tell me that they have been praying that we win; everyone is so happy that they have no words to express their joy."
*12:30 GMT, March 24, 2012: This article originally said Afghanistan were in Group B in the World Twenty20. It has been corrected to reflect that their group will be decided by the final of the World Twenty20 qualifiers
Edited by Devashish Fuloria