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Afghanistan aims to play Tests by 2015

Afghanistan, which is likely to be ushered into one day international cricket this year, is aiming at Test status by 2015.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 19:13 IST

Afghanistan, which is likely to be ushered into One Day International cricket this year, is aiming at Test status by 2015.

The country will get a chance to play ODIs if it performs well in the forthcoming Asian Cricket Council cup in Malaysia in May.

The game has got a boost in the war-ravaged country with 22 of its 32 provinces now playing cricket - up from four since the days of the Taliban regime.

"Two of our bowlers, who are currently playing at the under-19 level, will surely take the world by storm once we enter the international scene," said Afghanistan Cricket Federation (ACF) vice president Raees khan Jaji.

Jaji, who recently accompanied the country's national team to England for an exhibition match against the Malbourne Criket Club, said the future was bright for Afghan cricket if the initial hiccups could be overcome.

"There are several problems that we are facing. Lack of funds is the most difficult problem we have," Jai told IANS.

"Despite promises from both - the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) - help is only trickling in," he complained.

Listing out a string of recent cricketing achievements, Jaji referred to the world record set by the Afghan under-17 team in a match against Brunei by scoring 357 runs and ending the opposition innings for just 11 runs in 2005.

Referring to the poor status of organised support in their country, Jaji said even the national level players get only $8.5 (Afghani 428) per match, allotted by the Afghan Olympic Committee.

"We get sponsorship from the Standard Chartered Bank and the Roshan Mobile Phone Company, and that too only for international matches."

Referring to the promises made by the India, Jaji said: "In 2002, then BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya got us ACC (Asian Cricket Council) membership. But he has not acted on his promise to build a world-class stadium in Afghanistan despite repeated pleadings.

"The International Cricket Council (ICC) had allotted $70,000 for the game's development in Afghanistan in 2002. Of this, $25,000 was allotted for coaching.

"Because we could not find a suitable coach, they withdrew the amount. We have now suggested the names of the former Indian bowler Venkatesh Prasad and former Pakistani players Rashid Latif and Saeed Anwar."

"The Afghan Olympic Association had allotted 336,000 sq metre of land just outside the presidential palace in Kabul. But lack of funds has sent the project into stagnation.

"When the Indian government is helping our government in infrastructure development and other areas so much, why can't the BCCI lend support to Afghan cricket?" asked Jaji.

First Published: Mar 24, 2006 19:13 IST