Al Jazeera’s Rahul Pathak sees cricketers beat the odds to reach World Twenty20.
|Afghanistan reached their first major tournament, the World Twenty20, in February [Hilal Yasni]|
Afghanistan are set to become the first first-class cricket side to tour Pakistan since the attacks on the Sri Lanka squad in Lahore last year.
Coach Kabir Khan, who booked Afghanistan’s place in the forthcoming World Twenty20 last month, said his team were willing to play one-day internationals and T20 matches to “help out” their neighbours.
Pakistan have had to play ‘home’ matches in the United Arab Emirates since touring sides refused to play in Pakistan after gunmen assaulted Sri Lanka’s players in March 2009.
Six policemen and a driver were killed and several players wounded.
Khan, a former Pakistan Test player, told the Reuters news agency on Monday that his team were hungry to play against top sides before the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean starts on April 30.
“Pakistan cricket has always been a great supporter of Afghanistan cricket and they helped establish cricket in the war-torn country with financial, moral and technical support,” said Khan.
“Pakistan cricket has always been a great supporter of Afghanistan cricket and they helped establish cricket in the war-torn country”
Kabir Khan, Afghanistan cricket coach
“The team feels we can also extend a helping hand to Pakistan cricket at a time when they are facing problems.
“Our team has ODI international status and is willing to play in Pakistan.”
Later this year Pakistan will play two Tests against Australia in England.
Afghanistan won last month’s qualifying competition to book their place in the Twenty20 World Cup.
It will be their first appearance in a major International Cricket Council tournament.
“The way we have improved and the enthusiasm and talent I see in the side, I am confident this team is capable of upsetting any top team in the World Cup,” said Khan.
Afghanistan’s rise in world cricket has been astronomical since their team was officially formed nine years ago.
They rose through multiple tiers of lower-level cricket before narrowly missing out on qualification for the 2011 World Cup last year, but won ODI status meaning they can play top nations like India, Australia or England in the 50-over or 20-over forms of the game.