Afghanistan eager for landmark day

Feb 10, 2012, 10:38 IST | AFP
Afghanistan skipper Nawroz Mangal promises to put up a good contest in their first-ever ODI match against a Test playing side -- Pakistan

Pakistan and Afghanistan play a historic first-ever one-day international between the two countries here today with both captains vowing to make the game a memorable one.

Afghanistan players train ahead of their first-ever ODI against Pakistan
in Sharjah on Wednesday. PIC/AFP

"It is a very important game for both countries and we will try to make the occasion memorable with some quality cricket," Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said.

"It is important for countries like Afghanistan to play a top team which will help them improve and we are going to play with our full strength team as they have some good players."

Today's match in Sharjah Stadium -- which holds the world record of staging the most one-day internationals with 201 -- is fitting because most of the Afghan players learnt the game in Pakistan while staying as refugees after the Soviet invasion of their country in 1979.

Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal thanked Pakistan for giving them chances.

"We thank Pakistan for allowing us to play this one-day and also giving us opportunity to play in their domestic competitions which raised our confidence," said Mangal, who led Afghanistan to one-day status.

"It is a history-making match against a top team like Pakistan and we will try our best to put up a good fight in a contest which is a big challenge for us," said the 27-year-old Mangal, an off-spin bowler.

"We want the public to share this historic moment with both the teams," said Mangal.

Taliban spokesperson excited about match
Excitement was building in cricket-loving parts of Afghanistan ahead of their historic ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah today -- even among Taliban insurgents. "I am personally a fan of cricket, I'll follow this match closely," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in his personal capacity. Asked which side he would support, given reported backing for the insurgents from within Pak, he replied: "I pray that Afghans come out as winners." � AFP

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