Asia Cup: Afghanistan raring to bring down India, Sri Lanka

Asghar Stanikzai, who scored an unbeaten 90 to help Afghanistan beat Bangladesh, feels his side can even topple tougher opponents going forward in Asia Cup 2014.

Updated: March 02, 2014 16:16 IST
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Fataullah, Bangladesh: High on confidence after their historic win over Bangladesh, minnows Afghanistan are now hoping to stage another upset in their remaining two league games of the Asia Cup against powerhouses India and Sri Lanka.

"Bangladesh were a bit lesser team than the other three. But we still have two more games coming up and our main target here is to win. Hopefully, we can beat one or two more full members," Asghar Stanikzai, who made an unbeaten 90 to set up the 32-run win over Bangladesh last night, told reporters at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium here.

"We were here to justify our participation on this big stage and to prove to the world that we belong here. We are here to give tough times to all four members. If we can beat one of them (India and Sri Lanka) it would be a much greater achievement for us," he said. (Also read: Kabul celebrates win vs Bangladesh into wee hours)

Stanikzai and all-rounder Samiullah Shenwari put on 164 runs from 138 balls for the sixth wicket to help the Afghans post a challenging 254 for six on the board, a target that proved too much for the depleted hosts, who are without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan.

"To be honest, every single victory counts huge back home. It has a huge impact back home. With this victory, cricket will grow even more and the interest in cricket will grow even more," Stanikzai said reiterating coach Kabir Khan's views.

"We are trying our best to put up a positive case for cricket back home and we have achieved a lot in such a short time. But this will bring lots of happiness and prosperity back home. Everyone will be celebrating at home," Stanikzai said.

"It's a historic win for Afghanistan. This is just the fourth time we are playing an ODI against a Test member, and beating a Test nation in our fourth exposure is a huge achievement. I don't think any other associate member has beaten a Test nation in their fourth attempt," he added.

Asked how will the Afghans celebrate the win, Stanikzai said: "Normally we celebrate it with Athan, our traditional dance and we do it normally quite a lot. I think Shapoor (Zardan) will be on the dance floor tonight. Shapoor and Shehzad are our party-makers and they'll ensure there is one.

"This win will raise the team's morale very high. We had the game in our hand against Pakistan but unfortunately small errors cost us," he said.

Stanikzai begs to differ with suggestions that Bangladesh were weakened by the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib.

"You can't rely on just a player or two. Definitely they are key players for Bangladesh, but you have to rely on your bench strength," he said.

"We had the same case, where we missed Noor Ali Zadran today and missed Hamid Hassan against Pakistan in our first game. But you have to rely on your bench strength. If you have a stronger bench strength, you'll have more chances to win a game."

Afghanistan will play Sri Lanka tomorrow before facing India in their final league match on March 5.

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