Accessibility links

Breaking News

Afghanistan Reach Final Stage Of Cricket Cup Qualifying

Afghan national cricket team
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Afghanistan continued their remarkable rise in international cricket when they beat the Cayman Islands by 82 runs on January 31 to reach the final stage of the 2011 World Cup qualifying competition.

Uganda also went through thanks to a 99-run win over hosts Argentina on the final day of world cricket league division three, a six-team tournament which also serves as part of the complex World Cup qualifying system.

"This is one of the biggest days in my life today, I can't believe it," said Afghanistan fast bowler Hamid Hassan, whose team have flourished despite almost a complete lack of facilities in the war-torn nation.

"Nobody can really believe it, because we were in Division Five, then four, then three, and now two."

"It's a very big achievement for us, there has been 30 years of war in Afghanistan and nobody loves sports."

Three teams -- Afghanistan, Uganda and Papua New Guinea -- finished with eight points from five games but the Afghans had the best net run rate followed by Uganda.

The two qualify for a 12-team tournament in South Africa in April with four places at the 2011 World Cup -- to be held jointly by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka -- up for grabs.

Afghanistan, who became affiliate members of the International Cricket Council in 2001, won Division Five in Jersey last May, then Division Four in Tanzania the following October.

Lucky Break

Afghanistan, most of whose players were raised in neighboring Pakistan, rode their luck, however, having been on the verge of defeat against Cayman Islands on January 30 before the match was abandoned due to rain.

The Caribbean side had needed only 28 runs for victory with eight wickets standing when play was called off.

Afghanistan took full advantage on January 31as they raced to 230-8 off their 50 overs, the highest score of the tournament, helped by 70 from captain Norooz Mangal and an unbeaten 66 off 62 balls by Asghar Stanikzai.

They were helped by some shoddy fielding from the Cayman Islands.

Spinner Mohammad Nabi took 4-23 as Afghanistan then bowled out the Caymans Islands for 148.

Uganda lost some early wickets against Argentina before going on to make 182, then skittled the hosts for 83 in 33.2 overs. Argentina were relegated along with Cayman Islands.