Afghanistan cricketers aim for the big time

Guangzhou: Afghanistan`s blazing run to the final of the Asian Games this month has given them a taste of success and now they are gunning for the cricket big time.

The team is training in Dubai for the Intercontinental Cup final against Scotland this week and has its eyes on bigger things.

"The silver medal has inspired us to try even harder in the International Cup Final. We want to play as much as possible, wherever possible. The aim is to join the big league," captain Mohammad Nabi said.

"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."

The Afghans were beaten in the Asian Games final earlier this month by Bangladesh, but beat Pakistan earlier in the tournament.

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

The International Cup Final is a five-day match from Dec. 2-6 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 Dec. 8 to a heroes` welcome, regardless.

Bureau Report

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