New Delhi: Afghanistan cricket captain Asghar Stanikzai on Tuesday appealed to the ICC to provide them with increased opportunities for showcasing their talents rather than suppression from World Cups.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has rubber stumped plans to reduce the number of teams in the One-Day World Cup in 2019 despite impressive performances by the associate nations during last year's edition.
The 2019 World Cup will be a 10-team contest, four less than the 2015 edition, which has prompted complaints from the developing teams that they are being forcibly suppressed.
Afghanistan, though losing both their first two matches of the ongoing World T20 against Sri Lanka and South Africa, have distinguished themselves with praiseworthy performances, which have been acknowledged by legends Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Michael Vaughan. They face England at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on Wednesday.
Stanikzai said he was proud that their efforts have been noticed and hoped it would act as a stepping stone for consistency.
"A proud moment for us that we are getting praise from legends like Tendulkar.
"Definitely we need support from the ICC. We are playing good cricket. If you see our recent performance we have beaten Zimbabwe in their own backyard and in the UAE," Stanikzai said at the pre-match press conference.
"So we are showing that we are a competitive side. In this World Cup we are not just here to make up the numbers. Our games were not one sided. Our aim is to win at least a match against a full member. All teams are scared of us. They are wary that we can beat them."
Stanikzai said their performances indicate they are on an upward curve and appealed to the governing body to provide them with competitive opportunities against the Test playing nations and harness them towards becoming a strong cricket-playing nation.
"We are eager to play in each and every World Cup and we have requested the ICC to give us more exposure and allow big teams to play a series with us."
"We need to be harnessed to perform better and we need more matches. We need series against full members to improve," the 29-year-old.
"We are working hard, our domestic cricket structure is high. Infrastructure is being built. We have made good progress."
Their claim would gain even more momentum if they manage to beat England and Stanikzai said they are learning from their mistakes in the opening two matches.
He observed that the pressure will be squarely on England, having lost one of their opening two matches.
"Against Sri Lanka, poor fielding let us down. We gave away some loose boundaries. Chasing 210 against South Africa was tough. AB de Villers got two chances, had we taken any one of them then the target would have come down to 170-180. That would have been a chaseable target," he said.
"Looking forward to the England challenge. Definitely more pressure on England. We are eager to win at least a game against a big team."
"We haven't set any total in mind. We will look at the wicket tomorrow and decide how we need to bat and what sort of score you need."
The presence of former India seamer Manoj Prabhakar, who has ample experience of playing at the Ferozeshah Kotla, and ex-Pakistan batting great Inzamam ul-Haq in their coaching ranks have facilitated their performances in India.
"Prabhakar has good knowledge of Indian conditions. He works very hard at the nets, gives valuable inputs and also helps in fielding. We have a great coaching team comprising Inzamam and Prabhakar that is helping us immensely," the right-hand batsman said.