The final two of the 12 men’s teams which will vie for the third ICC WT20 championship were determined last Saturday in Dubai when Afghanistan and Ireland won their semi-final matches. The Afghans then beat Ireland by eight wickets with 15 balls remaining to win the title and be seeded as Qualifier 1 while the runners-up took the Qualifier 2 berth.
Heralding the success of both sides, the man spearheading the organisation of the championships said that the tenacity and commitment which the Afghans and the Irish displayed throughout the ICC WT20 Qualifiers in Dubai “should be a warning that top teams not take them lightly”.
“We in the Caribbean remember the giant-killing prowess of the Irish who beat Pakistan in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and fought to a dramatic tie with Zimbabwe. They can spring a surprise when they are at their best. They are grouped with the West Indies and England and will feature in the tournament’s first night match versus the hosts. It should make for a great atmosphere at Guyana National Stadium on April 30th,” said Mr. Bryan.
Regarding the Afghans, he noted this Associate member has shown significant promise in recent years and their potential has finally come to the fore.
“I think the cricketing world is sitting up and absorbing the performances of Afghanistan in riding this wave of triumph after triumph all the way to the Caribbean – the next big stage on which they will showcase their talent.
“I would like to congratulate them on their comprehensive victory in the ICC WT20 qualifier and welcome them to ICC WT20 WI 2010. I’m sure their success is a source of much pride and delight to their fans and families and we hope to see some of them in the West Indies supporting their team.”
Fans in Saint Lucia and Barbados will get an opportunity to see the Afghans in action when they compete in Group C of the First Round of ICC WT20 WI 2010. On Saturday May 1st, they will oppose India at Beausejour Cricket Ground before moving on to Kensington Oval to take on South Africa on Wednesday May 5th in Barbados.
Meanwhile, both teams are thrilled to have qualified for the third edition of the ICC WT20 championship and are keen to tackle the top sides in the sport.
“This really is a great achievement for Afghanistan cricket and something I am extremely proud and thankful for all the help the ICC, along with the Asian Cricket Council, has given to Afghanistan cricket in providing us with facilities to play cricket,” said Afghan middle-order batsman, Raees Ahmadzai.
He warned that his team will not be heading to the Caribbean merely to make up numbers.
“We will give the Full Member countries a real test out in the West Indies – we won’t be going out there just for fun. In Twenty20 cricket anything can happen. It is a form of cricket we know very well and we will not be easy to beat.”
Ireland captain, William Porterfield, is eager to return to the West Indies after the success of ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
“It’s great for us and the lads are on a high. We’re heading to the West Indies and we can’t wait. We have fond memories of playing there during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and we’re looking forward to heading back again. The people are great out there, they love their cricket and it’s a great atmosphere when you’re out there playing.
“We had great support out there the last time which helped as it was our first major global event and we now looking forward to getting back out there and getting the same kind of support.”