CANBERRA (AFP) – Afghanistan offer the World Cup a fairytale story if they can upset Bangladesh and launch their debut tournament with a victory at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Wednesday.
The Afghans want to give their war-weary homeland something to cheer and they hold hopes of upsetting Test-playing national Bangladesh after shocking them in the Asia Cup in Dhaka last year.
“For Afghanistan to play the 50-over World Cup is our dream,” captain Mohammad Nabi said.
Nabi said that too often the news involving Afghanistan related to conflict.
“If there is positive news like the cricket players of Afghanistan in the World Cup, it totally changes the minds back home and also in the world as well,” he said.
“The meaning for the country to play in the 50-over World Cup is a big opportunity for cricket and also for the nation.
“This is a game that can bring Afghanistan together and be a very good tool for peace and stability.”
Apart from fellow Associate nation Scotland, Bangladesh is Afghanistan’s big opportunity for a win as they also have hosts Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England to contend with in Pool A.
“The biggest challenge is going to be how the batsmen handle the quicker bowlers. Playing in Australia is going to be quite brutal for some of these guys who aren’t used to those conditions,” their English coach Andy Moles said.
“I will work hard to get them as much confidence as possible, to play without fear of failure and, if they see an opportunity at any stage in a game, to take it.
“I’d like them to enjoy the challenge that lies ahead of them.”
With experienced players like Nowroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shinwari, Najibullah Zadran, Shapoor Zadran and Hamid Hasan, Afghanistan will hope they can show their talent in the big league.
Afghanistan qualified for the last two World Twenty20 tournaments in 2010 and 2012 but lost all their matches, however this will be their first time in the 50-over tournament.