Sharjah: Afghanistan players sweated it out in hard training at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium yesterday, ahead of their one-day match against the mighty Australians.
Every player in the squad looked determined to win the encounter.
Leading the pack is their inspiring skipper Nawroz Mangal, and he reminded the Australians that: “In cricket you cannot predict anything. This is a brilliant chance for us and a great exposure against a team like Australia.”
When Gulf News asked whether the familiarity with the Sharjah wicket would give them the upper hand against the Australians, Mangal said: “Sharjah is our home ground. This is a plus factor for us. We will plan well and take advantage of the conditions here.”
Afghanistan are even flying in their Under-19 team captain Javid Ahmadi and left-hand batsman Najeebullah Zadran following the conclusion of their matches in the Under-19 World Cup in Australia. Their experienced opener Noor Ali, who is nursing a shoulder injury and pacer Hamid Hassan, who is recovering from a knee surgery, are doubtful starters.
Mangal’s confidence to beat Australia owes much to his team’s recent performances. “We have performed well against Ireland, Holland and Scotland and beat them consistently. The form of my team was very good in the recent T20 qualifiers and also against Holland. So we will take all these positives in to this big game.”
Though Mangal knows that beating Australia will be far from easy, he has done his planning very well along with coach Kabir Khan.
“We have a plan for the entire Australian team, but still they have some very good batters like Michael Clarke coming in the middle order. He is a great finisher too. David Warner is capable of giving them a good start and pacer Mitchell Johnson is always dangerous. We have to be careful with these three players,” he said.
Mangal expressed his deep thanks to the authorities who have made the match possible. He said: “I am very thankful to Cricket Australia, International Cricket Council (ICC) and Pakistan Cricket Board for their efforts in making this game possible for us. This will be a huge moment for every single player who will get to play against the mighty Australians who are the real old titans of the game. We can hopefully put up a good show.”
Following this match, Afghanistan will fly to Trinidad to play a quadrangular T20 tournament against Bangladesh, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago before the Twenty20 World Cup.