Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai on Sunday said his side would head into next year’s Cricket World Cup aiming to lift the trophy, after capping a remarkable recovery in qualifying by thrashing the West Indies.
Both Afghanistan and the West Indies had already made sure of their places in next year’s World Cup by topping the 10-team qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.
Mohammad Shahzad starred as Afghanistan laid down a marker ahead of the tournament in England and Wales by romping to a seven-wicket victory.
“This victory will give us the required boost to work extremely hard over the next 14 months and like the other nine sides [we] will arrive in England and Wales firmly believing we can win the World Cup,” Stanikzai said.
Afghanistan had looked set to miss out on a second straight World Cup appearance after slumping to three straight defeats in the group stage of qualifying, but Sunday’s win made it five straight victories as they qualified with help from results elsewhere.
“This is nothing but a miracle that we have won this tournament,” added Stanikzai, whose team are set to play their maiden Test against India in Bangalore in June. “This is by far Afghanistan’s greatest victory. Beating the mighty Windies in the final of a tournament which is no less than a mini-World Cup is something like a dream come true for all of us. The boys have shown what they are capable of. If we have come this far in 10 years, I leave it to you to decide where we can be in the next 10 years.”
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan became the fastest bowler ever to reach 100 one-day international wickets as the Windies were bowled out for 204, before big-hitting opener Shahzad smashed 84 as Afghanistan knocked off the runs with 9.2 overs to spare.
“I’m proud of my boys. We came here to achieve a target and various boys put their hands up,” Windies skipper Jason Holder said. “We had a quick turnaround between games, but I’m proud of them for sticking in. Obviously disappointed not to win this final, but we had some great performances throughout. I want to thank my team for their support.”
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