x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Asian Games run galvanises Afghanistan's expectations

Afghanistan's impressive run to the final of the Asian Games this month has given them a taste of success and now they are looking to push on and make an impact at the top level of the game.

Afghanistan's impressive run to the final of the Asian Games this month has given them a taste of success and now they are looking to push on and make an impact at the top level of the game.

Despite losing to Bangladesh in the final their efforts have given Afghanistan confidence as they prepare for the Intercontinental Cup final against Scotland, which begins tomorrow in Dubai, and they have their eyes on bigger things following the completion of the five-day match.

"The silver medal has inspired us to try even harder in the International Cup final," Mohammad Nabi, the captain, said.

We want to play as much as possible, wherever possible. The aim is to join the big league.

"It is the passion for the game and our country that keeps us going," he added.

"Cricket is the fastest growing sport in our country with many thousands of people playing the game or following it on radio and TV. Cricket is now the biggest peaceful movement in Afghanistan."

In September, Afghanistan romped to victory in a Twenty20 tournament in Pakistan, beating a team that included Imran Nazir and Rana Naved, the Pakistan internationals, and underlining Afghanistan's emergence as a serious cricket-playing nation.

The International Cup Final is a five-day match starting tomorrow and is the conclusion of a two-year first-class competition among the leading ICC Associate and Affiliate nations.

The Afghan team will return home on December 8 to a heroes' welcome.

"They are a living national treasure and when they return home, Afghanistan will show how much we love them all," Hamid Shinwari, the chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said.

* Reuters