LAHORE – Director Games development National Cricket Academy (NCA) Intikhab Alam Monday said that Afghan cricket team will greatly benefit from its four-week training tour of Pakistan by attending NCA’s coaching programmes besides playing one-day and Twenty20 matches.

Talking to the reporters at a press conference flanked by captain of the Afghan team Kabir Khan and manager Nouraiz Mangal and Ali Zia at Gaddafi Stadium, Intikhab said the prime aim of Afghan team’s tour was to build their team for the World Cup qualifying round to be held in March.

“Our experienced coaches will be imparting finer points of the game to bring improvement in batting, fielding and bowling of the players to prepare them for the Qualifying rounds to get productive results,” said the NCA official.

He said apart from attending the training programme at NCA, the Afghan team would also be playing eight one-day games and four Twenty20 matches against Pakistan A team to get competitive practice ahead of their participation in the qualifying rounds.

To a query, Intikhab replied: “A number of other cricket playing countries have also contacted Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to attend training programme at NCA to bring overall improvement in their respective teams. Afghan team is fast coming up in cricket and Pakistan helped them to organise their cricket and our coaches played a significant role in teaching them the basics of the game.”

Afghan team captain Kabir described the training programme at NCA ‘very significant’ in order to lift the fortune of their team by overcoming flaws in different departments of the game.

“It is a very good opportunity for our players to learn from coaches at NCA. We are focusing on preparation of the team for the qualifying rounds and we strongly believe that training at NCA will add to our experience and confidence to perform up to a higher level in the qualifying rounds,” he said.

Replying to a question, he said: “Afghan team will pay for their training at NCA. Before we were attending such programmes at Sharjah but NCA is the most suitable place where all most modern cricket facilities are available under one roof for training for any international vent.”

He said Pakistan always supported the cause of cricket in Afghanistan even in difficult situation in their country and they were thankful to the PCB for its support in organising cricket in their war-torn country. “We strongly believe that the visit of our team will help in dispelling the impression that Pakistan is not a safe country for staging international cricket and our presence will motivate the other foreign teams to visit Pakistan in due course of time,” he added.

Afghan team manager Nouraiz said it was not the first visit of Afghan team to Pakistan and they were delighted to be here again to get support from PCB and NCA to groom their team for a tough challenge. “PCB regime led by its chairman Chaudhry Zaka Asrhaf is extending full support to us which will surely help the Afghan team,” he concluded.