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The Afghan advance
Publication Date : 02-10-2012
The Asian Cricket Council’s recent decision to back Afghanistan for associate membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) is recognition of the fast-improving Afghan team and makes plenty of sense. The would-be associate members have shown glimpses of their talent and the combative qualities the Afghans are famous for have won their side admirers. The Afghan cricketers are looked upon with a certain amount of pride in Pakistan not just because they are currently considered the most likely underdogs to upset the giants; Pakistanis look at these Afghan fighters as their proteges. This country is happy to have played a big part in nurturing the cricketing talent among Afghan refugees over many decades. Many of the cricketers who first brandished their skills in the streets of Karachi and Peshawar are now distinguished members of the Afghan national side. They are coached by an ex-Pakistan player and have taken part in domestic competitions here.
So huge is Pakistanis’ support for this Afghan conquest that the happenings in a match of the ongoing T-20 world championship sort of revived the old strategic-depth theory here. Afghanistan were playing India and playing them well and at one time genuinely threatened the Indian team — softening them up before Pakistan were scheduled to play India in the next round. But just as the best of coaching may have its faults, there is one area where the Afghans need to "de-learn" their Pakistani experience. The Afghans do not have to drop all these balls to prove their affinity with their neighbours. They are as notorious as their teachers when it comes to catching the ball. As a team worthy of the associate stature they must improve their fielding, and maybe they can inspire their teachers to catch a few, amid these chants of "do more" and "Whatmore" (Dave Whatmore is current coach of Pakistan cricket team).