Afghanistan coach Khan wants more big games after T20 exit

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The Independent Online

Afghanistan bowed out of their first major tournament on Wednesday night, then urged the game's top nations to give them a chance to gain greater experience and exposure.

The team from the war-torn nation, which includes players who learned the game in dusty refugee camps near the Pakistan border, lost their second Twenty20 World Cup game against South Africa, ending their involvement in the Caribbean.

The result, following an earlier loss to India, was no surprise but their Pakistani coach Kabir Khan was bubbling with pride. Afghanistan's bowlers, including the impressive Hamid Hassan, restricted South Africa to 139-7 but then, against the pace of Dale Steyn, slumped to 32 for eight in reply, before eventually being bowled out for 80.

"Against India there was all sorts of pressure on them, there was television, there were the big stars, there was the crowd and they coped with it very well," he said. "To restrict South Africa to 139 is a big achievement."

A particular plus was Hassan, who took three wickets and then hit two big sixes in a promising innings of 22. Hassan, along with team-mate Mohammed Nabi received training in England as part of the MCC's Young Cricketers scheme and his coach believed there needs to be more foreign experience for his players.

"They need to be exposed to that pressure again and again," he said. "We were talking about practising for the pace bowlers and on a bowling machine you can put it to 90mph (145kph) but you can't have Dale Steyn bowling at you and swinging the ball. So you have to face those bowlers to get the experience. My team are quick learners."