News ID: 95759
Publish Date : 24 October 2021 - 22:14

DUBAI (AFP) - As Afghanistan prepared for their opening match in the T20 World Cup against Scotland, captain Mohammad Nabi played a straight bat on Sunday to the inevitable questions on politics.
“Everyone knows that back home in Afghanistan there’s a lot happening and everything from the last few months,” he acknowledged in the press conference ahead of the game in Sharjah on Monday.
“But as a cricket point of view, everybody is ready for this World Cup and we prepared well.”
“The fans are really waiting because the only happiness in Afghanistan is cricket,” he said.
“If you’re willing to do well in the tournament and we win the games, the fans are really happy and there will be a lot of smiles on faces.”
After the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in August, the cricket team briefly faced the possibility of being banned from the tournament if the women’s game was discontinued.
Then star spinner Rashid Khan stepped down as captain before visa issues in the Persian Gulf placed yet another hurdle in the team’s path.
All-rounder Nabi took over as skipper.
“There was a little issue when we arrived in Dubai,” Nabi said, acknowledging that the last 10 days were not “ideal”.
Afghanistan are only a second-tier ‘associate nation’ but their strength in T20 allowed them to qualify directly for the main group stage while full Test nations Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had to battle through the first round.
Nabi said Afghanistan hope to be promoted to elite.
“We do well in the tournament and inshallah we’ll be the next team,” he said.
Afghanistan’s success in T20 is built on their big-hitting batting and the spin bowling of their ‘Big Three’, Khan, Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
In all, eight of their 15-man World Cup squad have experience of playing professional T20 cricket in other countries.
Afghanistan are in Group 2 with India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Namibia as well as the Scots, who they face on Monday.

* Comment: