Afghanistan’s Stanikzai thanks BCCI, says they can upset Sri Lanka

Kolkata (IANS) Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai on Wednesday praised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for their support and added they are capable of beating Sri Lanka in their World Twenty 20 opener.

The BCCI allowed Afghanistan to practice at a ground in greater Noida for their World T20 preparations. Afghanistan take on Sri Lanka at a tie at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

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“There is lot of craze in Afghanistan. The people love this game (cricket). Back home they are very excited. They are following us very closely. It is the No.1 game in the country. We appreciate and thank the BCCI for providing us with a home ground in Greater Noida, they have not only helped us have better infrastructure but they have proved the friendship,” Stanikzai told media persons via his interpreter at a pre-match media conference.

Asked if they think they can upset Sri Lanka, the skipper said, “Last time we were very near to beating them in the World Cup in 2015. But (Mahela) Jayawardene, (Kumar) Sangakkara batted well and took the game away from us. But they are not there now, so we have good chance. Sri Lanka is the defending (champion), so we have good players who can change the game. We are looking forward to beating some big names.”

Stanikzai also praised former Pakistan captain Inzamam ul Haq and ex-Indian bowler Manoj Prabhakar who serve as the team’s head coach and bowling coach respectively.

“Inzamam, and Manoj have done very well, they have shared their international experience with us which has been of great help,” he said.

Afghanistan got knocked out from the qualifying stages of the recently concluded Asia Cup where India emerged as the champions.

Speaking about it, Stanikzai said, “Fielding was bad in Asia Cup, we dropped six catches. If you do that any team will beat you. We won next two games but it was too late. But then we practice hard and all the three departments look good now.”

The 29-year old also said their preparation has been good and they have sorted the difficulties they were facing.

“Last two months preparation has been great. Five games with Gujarat teams before Asia Cup and after that we came back to Greater Noida to sort out things what were lacking,” he said.

He added associate sides need to play more cricket with the already established cricket nations to improve their game and said unlike Oman and Hong Kong most of Afghanistan’s players are from the country itself.

“We can never improve if we play with only associate members. We need to play with big teams to improve. We beat Zimbabwe and now we know how to win against full members.”

“Perhaps every one is from Afghanistan (players representing the country). We have a very strict rule in the country,” he said.

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