Afghanistan eye fresh World Twenty20 berth

To qualify for World T20 in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan will have to finish in the top two in the World Twenty20 qualifiers scheduled in March, 2012 in UAE Getty Images

Kabul: Sep 30, 2011

Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi said on Friday his fast-rising cricket team were batting for a fresh berth in the World Twenty20, hoping that competing in Pakistan had helped to mature young talent.

The 26-year-old led a young Afghan team in Pakistan’s Twenty20 domestic tournament and although they lost all three matches, the stand-in captain said they had learnt a lot.

“We are preparing for the World Twenty20 qualifiers next year and for a series of matches in the United Arab Emirates, so it was very good to come here and play,” Nabi told reporters.

Nabi led Afghanistan to a silver medal in the Asian Games in China last year.

Regular captain Nawroz Mangal and other seniors gave Pakistan a miss in order to prepare for next month’s matches in the UAE.

“We brought some youngsters here while the seniors were in the UAE, so we have a good back-up and youngsters get the chance to learn something, and I am happy that they learnt a lot,” said Nabi.

Afghanistan attained one-day status and also qualified for the third edition of the World Twenty20 held in the West Indies last year.

They now aim to qualify for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka next September.

For that Afghanistan will have to finish in the top two in the World Twenty20 qualifiers scheduled in the UAE from March 13-24, 2012.

Nabi, like most Afghans, learnt cricket in a Pakistani refugee camp after Soviet troops invaded their country in 1979.

As a solid, middle-order batsman Nabi made headlines when he made a brilliant hundred against Marylebone Cricket Club in Mumbai, India in 2006 and later got the chance to play first-class cricket in England.

Nabi was also instrumental in helping Afghanistan make the World Twenty20 2010, taking 13 wickets in the qualifying rounds.

Nabi hoped new coach Aftab Habib would help Afghanistan progress.

“We learnt a lot from Rashid Latif (the team’s former Pakistani coach) and now we have former England player Habib as coach, so we hope he carries on the good work,” said Nabi. (AFP)