Afghan captain hopes for Pakistan revival

ISLAMABAD - Afghanistan cricket captain Nouroz Mangal Tuesday said he hoped that his team’s tour to Pakistan would help the return of international cricket to the troubled country.

Despite that Afghanistan captain Mangal said he hoped that his team’s tour would help Pakistan. “I hope international cricket resumes in Pakistan,” said Mangal whose team will play three one-day matches against Pakistan ‘A’, a second string team.

Their tour opens in Islamabad today (Wednesday) while the other two matches will be played in Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. “I think security issues should not be related to cricket,” said Mangal. “It is an exciting challenge to play in Pakistan. Although we are not playing Pakistan’s senior team yet this ‘A’ team also has six to seven international players. We are here to learn something and I hope we will learn.”

Like most of Afghanistan’s players, Mangal learnt the game while living in refugee camps on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border following the Russian invasion of his country in 1979.

All the arrangements had been made to hold this crucial match in a befitting manner as none of the international team had visited Pakistan since 2009.

Afghanistan team captain Nouroz Mongal during a chat with the mediamen said: “We are delighted to visit Pakistan as this is our second home from where we learn how to play cricket, this was a gift from Pakistan to us which we have accepted with great pleasure.”

The main aim to visit Pakistan was to play as much cricket as possible against a full ICC member side to get maximum exposure, he added. This is Afghanistan team’s first official visit to any country after getting ODI status from the ICC.

Afghanistan cricket is gaining strength after defeating Pakistan A in the Asian Games and finishing with the silver medal and that was the finest moment of Afghanistan team players, the jubilant captain said.

“We are quite satisfied with the arrangements and security which was provided to us by the Pakistan government and the PCB”, he said. Nouroz said the main objective of Afghan team visit is to show solidarity with the people of Pakistan as they have shown to us during the Soviet war. We want to show the rest of the cricketing world that come and visit this country is completely safe for all kinds of sporting activities, he concluded.

Rashid Latif, Afghanistan team coach, while expressing his views said Pakistan A team is a very balanced side and he hoped that the people would see some entertaining cricket About his team he said that with the inclusion of two new players Davlah Adnan and Naseeb Ullah the Afghan team have got more depth, and the rest of the players are almost the same who are playing cricket for their country for the last two years.

Rashid Latif further disclosed that around 125, 130 first class players are available in Afghanistan and 30 of them can play at top level, so there is a backup for every player.

Rashid said cricket can’t be played under guarantees or any kind of assurances. We wanted to play in Pakistan and we are here and being a local ‘I don’t see any security threat what so ever for the team or players, he concluded.