Friday, 21 September 2012
By Muhammad Asif Khan
KARACHI: The Afghan Cricket Team have finally got some recognition at the big stage and the flare shown by the players, at the ongoing World Twenty20 Cup in Sri Lanka, has not only moved the spectators but one of the former greats as well. During the group match against India, the bowling of the World ODI champions (India) was badly exposed and even the minnow Afghans cashed in on it at will. While expressing the satisfaction over the team’s overall performance, the Coach Kabir Khan admitted that the pressure of a big event and strong opposition got to the boys. He (Kabir), however, is optimistic that things would start falling in place for them with the passage of time.
“We hardly play against quality oppositions therefore the crowd and camera increased the already existing pressure on to the players. Even our best fielders dropped catches, and later our batsmen succumbed to the anxiety as well. We are working on the weakness, but it will take time”, said Kabir Khan, while talking to this correspondent for News One TV.
Kabir Khan, who recently took over as Afghan Coach from former Pakistan Captain Rashid Latif, further said that after the match against India, former great Sunil Gavaskar also visited the training camp and praised the effort of the Afghan team.
“Sunil Gavaskar was kind enough to spend about 15 minutes with Afghan players and gave valuable tips to them about mental toughness. Along with other suggestions, Gavaskar emphasised over our fielding a lot. Boys are thrilled by the great gesture and hopeful of making it count on the field. The bottom line is that the more we play, the better we would get”, added Kabir Khan.
Former Test cricketer from Pakistan, Kabir Khan has been enjoying his second stint with the Afghan team as coach. He was replaced by Rashid Latif last year, however earlier this year Latif stepped down to make way for Kabir Khan again.
Kabir Khan, 38, was a left-arm seamer during his playing days, however couldn’t find a permanent slot for him in the Pakistan team. The Peshawar born Kabir represented Pakistan in 4 Tests and 10 ODIs between 1994 and 2000.
On the infrastructure in Afghanistan, the coach said that with two state-of-the-art facilities at home, the Afghan Cricket Authorities are now in a position to develop domestic structure which will benefit the national team in the future.
“Two stadiums with adequate capacity and facilities have been built in Kabul and Jalalabad. Now we mainly practice at home, however due to harsh weather in winter, important camps are still held in Dubai”, said Kabir Khan
Cricket is being played in Afghanistan since decades however the national team was formed in 2001. After a series of impressive performances in the past 3 years, the team secured qualification to the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 Cup which was their first major tournament.
“Domestic structure is being developed, and with the passage of time and the passion for the game in the youngsters, I am optimistic of bright future for the Afghan cricket”, concludes Kabir Khan.
The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif