Ashraful says India's rise good for Asian game
Led by an inspirational Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India beat Australia 2-0 to lift the tri-series one-day tournament earlier this month.cricket Updated: Mar 20, 2008 16:17 IST
India's brilliant show against Australia will inspire other Asian nations and prove a boon for the game in the region, an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) official said on Thursday.
Led by an inspirational Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India beat Australia 2-0 to lift the tri-series one-day tournament earlier this month. Before that tournament the tourists narrowly lost a nail-biting Test series 2-1 under Anil Kumble - but only after breaking the host's 16-match unbeaten run.
"India beating Australia is very good for cricket in Asia and will encourage nations like Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, China and Afghanistan," ACC chief executive Ashraful Huq told AFP.
He described India as the top team in the world.
"I watched both the finals in Australia and was amazed how the young Indian team paid the Australians back - both on and off the field," said Huq, also a former secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
He said the ACC wanted to build on India's success.
"We hope minor nations take a leaf out of India's book. We hope that two Asian teams, other than the four top nations who play directly, qualify for the World Cup 2011," he said.
The qualifying round of the 2011 World Cup - jointly hosted by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka - will be held in Dubai next year.
Huq said the inclusion of cricket as a medal sport in the 2010 Asian Games in China will be a major lift for the game.
"China is improving by leaps and bounds and cricket's inclusion in the Asian Games will open new avenues for the game. I can say with confidence that the Chinese women's team will give top nations a tough fight very soon," he said.
"Cricket is spreading in China like anything and we hope that once China gets their team in the top competitions, the game will flourish in their market and help our cause."
And Afghanistan, Huq said, will surprise major nations once they have a good coach.
"We have asked Afghanistan to hire a good coach, have in fact offered them a good coach, but they have not yet decided on it. Their players are very talented but they lack cricket knowledge.
"Afghanistan could have qualified for the Asia Cup 2008 instead of Hong Kong but they lost the semi-final because they wanted to reach the 150-plus target in just 10 overs which showed their lack of knowledge."
Huq also praised Pakistan for their support to Afghanistan and China.
"Pakistan has helped both China and Afghanistan by giving them equipment, have given China a very good coach and given tours to the Afghanistan team in the past, so other top nations are also willing to help them," he said.