Afghanistan ready to play in Pakistan: Noori

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Afghanistan paceman Noori said on Tuesday that his country was ready to play international cricket in terror struck Pakistan.

Updated: September 07, 2010 12:45 IST
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Afghanistan paceman Khaliq Dad Noori said on Tuesday that his country was ready to play international cricket in Pakistan at a time when security fears have stopped most teams touring the terror-hit nation.

Noori, who led Afghanistan's youth team to win a club-level tournament in Karachi Monday, hoped the visit would help revive cricket in Pakistan.

"Participation in this club-level event is a small step from our side," said Noori.

He said the youth team have clout, with seven members who played for the national side in the World Twenty20 in the West Indies, and recently toured Scotland.

Pakistan has been no-go zone for International teams since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March last year.

The attack, which killed eight people and injured seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach, ended all hopes of staging international cricket in Pakistan, already in doubt over security fears.

Since the attacks, the International Cricket Council has stripped Pakistan of its share of World Cup 2011 matches and forced Pakistan to play their home series in the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and England.

Afghanistan's youth team defeated Pakistan's AO Club by 61 runs in the final of the 16-team event, organised by Sindh provincial sports minister Mohammad Ali Shah.

"It is always fantastic to play in Pakistan and I sincerely hope that International Cricket returns to this cricket-loving country," said Noori, whose elder brother Allah Dad was the founder of the Afghanistan Cricket Federation.

Noori, 26, said winning the tournament proves Afghanistan have talent.

"You saw the talent in the team and this is because cricket is now a craze in Afghanistan. From south to west, we have more and more interest in the game and more academies have opened and more companies are coming into the game," said Noori, who like many of his team mates learned his love of the game as a refugee in Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

He said Afghan girls had also started taking up the sport.

"It may sound incredible, but I tell you girls are taking a big interest in cricket and, although the society restrictions mean women's cricket will take some time, interest is huge, Noori said.

Noori said Afghanistan's national team was making rapid progress.

"It was a step forward to qualify for the World Twenty20 and our recent results are getting better and better. I hope we continue to progress with this same speed," said Noori.

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