Afghan team pledges better showing in Pak competition

Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003, 20:19 [IST]
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Karachi: Afghanistan's fledgling cricket team on Monday promised to show signs of improvement when it takes part in a Pakistan domestic competition for a second year running. "With the support of our government and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), we are here for one more time and hope that our team shows improvement from the last time," team manager Raees Khan told from the Punjab city of Rahim Yar Khan. An 18-member team will feature in the Cornelius Trophy, a non-first class tournament, which starts from Tuesday. The Afghan side took part in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Grade II tournament last year and lost five of its six games, recording its only win against the team from the federally administrated tribal area. "We hope to win more matches this time and hope this exposure gives us a chance at Asian level," Khan said. Off spinning batsman Daulat Khan has replaced Allah Dad Noori as captain. The Afghan team plays Rahim Yar Khan in its first match in Pool 'D'. "The war has ended in Afghanistan and Afghans are now more inclined towards sports and we hope that International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) give us more support," Khan said. The PCB has given financial assistance and a coach to promote the development of cricket in the war-ravaged country. In May 2001, when Afghanistan was still under the rule of the hardline Taliban regime, an Afghan squad visited Pakistan and played five One-day games in Rawalpindi and Peshawar. The ICC last year said it was keen to develop the sport in Afghanistan and would advise the ACC to send a development manager to the country. Cricket took root in Afghanistan when refugees who headed to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion in 1979 returned home in the early 1990s with a love of the game. "We have over 100 cricket clubs in Afghanistan and three academies in Kabul, four in (the eastern city) Jalalabad and two each in (the southern provinces) Paktia, Khost and Kandhar," Khan said. Players try to keep up with international cricket in Afghanistan and hope to watch next month's World Cup on television. "There is a cable system in Kabul and we hope to watch all World Cup matches," captain Daulat Khan said.

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