Michael Clarke and Brendon McCullum praise Afghanistan for World Cup qualification

Image courtesy of: The Indian Express

Afghanistan will be participating in their maiden World Cup

Australia captain Michael Clarke and New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum have lavished praise upon Afghanistan after they recently beat Kenya 2-0 to qualify for the 2015 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup.

Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup after finishing second in the ICC World Cricket League Championship two weeks ago.

Afghanistan are in Pool A, while Ireland, who won the World Cricket League Championship are in Pool B.

“It was only last year that we played Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates,” Clarke was quoted as saying in an ICC release. “They put up a good fight and showed strong potential.

“To obtain a qualification spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 is something the squad deserves and we’re all really happy for them.”

Clarke added that Afghanistan’s rise in international cricket was nothing short of a “inspiring story”.

“Their growth over the past decade as a nation and a cricket side has been an inspiring story to say the least,” he said. “We expect they’ll be a challenge for any side in pool A and we’re looking forward to playing them on home soil in Perth.”

McCullum also congratulated Afghanistan and noted that he could not wait to square off against them in Napier on March 8, 2015.

“On behalf of the New Zealand cricket team, we would like to offer the Afghanistan cricket team our warmest congratulations on their efforts of qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015,” the New Zealand captain said. “We look forward to playing against them in the World Cup match in the beautiful city of Napier, and we are certain they will enjoy our country and the tournament.

“The participation of the associate nations is instrumental in the success of developing our game on the world stage and we wish Afghanistan all the best in tournament and also encourage them to enjoy their time in our country.”

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim also had some kind words for Afghanistan.

“I am looking forward to facing Afghanistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015,” Rahim said. “By that time I am sure they will have an even better side with more experience.

“A strong Afghanistan cricket team is very good news for the development of Associates as well as for world cricket.”

Bangladesh will face Afghanistan on 18 February in Canberra.

Rahim also stated that Afghanistan should not be taken lightly as they have some extremely talented players.

“It is exciting to see the progress of Afghanistan,” he said. “In a short time, the team has come a long way and the successes they have had, including qualification for world events, shows the intent and ability of the players.

“I have had the opportunity of captaining the likes of Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad and Gulbadin Naib in the Bangladesh Premier League and Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, and I have always found them to be keen and quick learners, hardworking and naturally talented.”

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