Buoyed by his team’s spirited effort against Pakistan, Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan on Friday sounded a warning bell for India and Sri Lanka, stating that they are “hungry to win” a match in the ongoing Asia Cup tournament. Afghanistan on Thursday had reduced Pakistan to 117 for six before the latter side recovered well to end up at 248.
“All of our boys are very hungry to win a game or two here they know how much it will change the team. If we get one or two wins it will change the future of youngsters and the next ten years of Afghanistan cricket,” Afghan coach Khan told reporters.
“I think, after the performance, all the rest of the teams who are playing against us will think twice before trying to take us lightly. They will definitely look out for our bowling and specially plan for our bowlers. We came here in this tournament not to win in the Cup but to to win one or two games. That’s what we want to take from here,” Khan added.
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Khan, who has played for Pakistan, heaped further praise on Afghanistan’s fast-bowling resources. “Well, in Afghanistan, the boys are well-built. They are strong and tough. They are aggressive. Obviously, that helps in them being fast bowlers. Kids back home want to be fast bowlers, not spinners. It’s just natural.”
The coach further added that they have another fine pacer in Hamid Hassan. “You haven’t seen Hamid Hassan yet. When you see him, it will change your views as well.”
He said cricket’s future in the country would become even more bright should the team pick up a few points here in the Asia Cup.
“The one thing that I keep on mentioning is that the cause why we are here is totally different from the other teams. Other teams might be here to win the tournament or to perform very well. We want to perform very well but our cause is totally different. If we win even a single match here, it will change the future of Afghanistan for the next ten years. Our youngsters, our youth will come to sports. And that is what we want to change.”
Afghanistan will have their best opportunity to make an impact on Saturday when they take on the hosts Bangladesh. Bangladesh played well in their loss against India, but have been affect by a spate injuries. Pacer Mashrafe Mortaza has been ruled out of the Asia Cup with a side strain.
They are already without key players Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Captain Mushfiqur Rahim is also carrying a shoulder injury from the India game. Rahim notched up a hundred against India. However, he sustained a shoulder injury while fielding and is still under observation.
Asked if Afghanistan were looking at Saturday’s match to taste their first big success in top-flight cricket, Khan said: “We would be playing against Bangladesh in the ICC World Twenty20 also. If we want to go to the second round there, we have to beat Bangladesh. We have to beat them. Because we are playing them in the World Twenty20, we want to put extra pressure on them and play well against them to boost ourselves for the World Twenty20 as well.”
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