SOUTHAMPTON: Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib has called on cricket’s top teams to play more matches against his country in future to aid their development.
Gulbadin’s charges have lost all five of their matches at the current World Cup ahead of Saturday’s clash with title contenders India in Southampton.
The minnows are competing in their second World Cup, with some critics claiming they have failed to progress since their appearance in Australia and New Zealand four years ago.
The Afghans beat Scotland in the last World Cup but have lost to Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa and England in the 2019 tournament.
Naib insists he is still proud of his team’s efforts and sees signs they are headed in the right direction.
But to develop enough to take on the game’s big guns, Naib is convinced Afghanistan must be given more regular matches against the likes of India and World Cup holders Australia.
“Sure, we want [that] also. If you look, we’re not playing against the other teams, our squad, but we do very well,” Gulbadin told reporters on Friday. “We want to improve our experience, so we should play against the good teams like India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan.
“If you’re targeting the top five or top six teams, we should play a lot with them. If we play with them, maybe Afghanistan will be losing the matches, or we will be struggling, but one day Afghanistan will be different.
“So it’s good for us, so if we play good cricket with this kind of team, maybe it’s a great experience, especially for the team and for the boys.”
Afghanistan’s only genuine chance of a win so far in this World Cup came in a rain-affected game against Sri Lanka when they were unable to chase a revised target of 187.
Regardless of whether or not Afghanistan manage a win in their remaining four matches, Naib believes his country’s presence at the World Cup is proof of their progress.
“If you look at the last World Cup, we played five, six games. Now here we’re playing nine games and each team. So there’s much difference,” he said. “So you can face different kinds of teams and different kind of conditions and pitches. We learned a lot of things the last four or five games.
“Now everyone knows Afghanistan is growing team in the world cricket. Now for me it’s a proud moment that we’re in top 10 teams. We are here. It’s a high ranking tournament. It’s a World Cup. We cannot say that everything is an easy out.”
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2019