Afghan captain urges international teams to visit Pakistan

Updated: May 24, 2011, 23:54 PM IST

Islamabad: Nawroz Mangal, the captain of the Afghanistan cricket team, has urged other international sides to support Pakistan by touring the country despite the security concerns.

"Look the security situation is nearly the same all over the world. It is not an ideal situation anywhere nowadays but life has to go on so must sporting activities," said Mangal on the eve of his team`s first one-day match against the Pakistan `A` side at the Diamond Club ground.

"Security remains a concern everywhere but teams need to support Pakistan cricket by playing here," he said.

The Afghanistan captain said his team was satisfied with the security assurances and arrangements made by the host board and government.

"For us to get a chance to play a proper representative series against a Test playing nation is a big step forward, so we are thinking about cricket and doing well," he said.

Afghanistan is set to become the first foreign team to play a representative cricket match in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March, 2009.

Six Pakistani policemen and a van driver were killed in the attack on March 3 while five Sri Lankan players were also wounded.

Pakistan also lost their share of 2011 World Cup matches after the brutal attack.

On Tuesday, the Sri Lankan cricket board also turned down an official invitation from the Pakistan board to play in the crisis-torn country later this year.

The Sri Lankans instead have offered to host the series or play at neutral venues, insisting the security situation in Pakistan still needed to improve.

But Mangal said that his players were comfortable in Pakistan and were not thinking about the attack on the Pakistan Naval airbase in Karachi the other day by militants.

"For us this series is a grand opportunity to learn and more forward. There is so much passion for the sport in Afghanistan that we only need to get more playing opportunities against top teams and we will improve rapidly," said Mangal who is his team`s most experienced player with 16 one-day and eight Twenty20 matches under his belt.

He also urged the International Cricket Council to give more opportunities to his country against other full Test nations.

Mangal said Pakistan had strongly supported Afghanistan cricket by also allowing the players to train at the national cricket academy before important events.

About the series he said, "It will be a challenging series for us but we hope to gain a lot from it."

The Afghanistan cricket board had requested to Pakistan for a full one-day international series but the PCB declined, citing the heavy commitments of its senior team.

PTI