Afghanistan to tune up for World Cup in Pakistan

KARACHI: Afghanistan’s fast-rising cricket team will train in Pakistan under the guidance of two former international captains as they prepare for their maiden World Cup appearance next year, their coach said Thursday.
Aamir Sohail will help the batsmen while Rashid Latif will help the wicket-keepers as the minnows begin tuning up for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“We have a full year of events starting with the Asian Cricket Council Trophy next month and the excitement will reach the highest point with the World Cup, and we have planned a two-week camp in Karachi from April 15,”Afghan coach Kabir Khan told AFP.
Afghanistan have taken big strides at the international level since gaining one-day status in 2009.
They have featured in three World Twenty20 (2010, 2012 and 2014) tournaments and qualified for next year’s World Cup.
The International Cricket Council has announced $1 million for each of the four World Cup qualifiers — Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Ireland and Scotland — and have also arranged their camps in Australia and New Zealand in September-October this year.
“We had a few good results in the Asia Cup where we beat the hosts Bangladesh,” said Khan of his team’s success in the event held in March this year.
“But our batsmen did not handle pressure well in the World Twenty20.”
Afghanistan lost to Bangladesh and Nepal in the qualifying stages and failed to reach the Super-10 group stage of the World Twenty20 held in Bangladesh.
Afghanistan are in Group A of the World Cup 2015 along with hosts Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Bangladesh, England and Sri Lanka.
They open their World Cup campaign with a match against Bangladesh in Canberra on February 18.
Sohail said he was looking forward to coaching Afghanistan.
“It will definitely be fun to coach the exciting players from Afghanistan and I will try to make them competitive enough to play against world’s best teams next year,” Sohail told AFP.
Latif, who served as Afghanistan coach in 2009 and 2010, said he was eagerly anticipating the role.
“I enjoyed their coaching them before and look forward to help(ing) them in the coming weeks,” said Latif, under whom Afghanistan won a silver medal in the 2010 Asian Games in China.
Afghanistan will also feature in this year’s Asian Games cricket event in Incheon, South Korea.