5 Oct 2013

Afghan cricket team books World Cup spot

9:09 am on 5 October 2013

Afghanistan's cricketers will be heading New Zealand and Australia in 2015 after qualifying for their maiden 50-over World Cup by finishing second in the World Cricket League Championship.

The war-torn country beat Kenya by seven wickets at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday to join Ireland as the second Associate team in the tournament, Reuters reports.

Opting to field after winning the toss, Afghanistan, who have played in the last two Twenty20 World Cups, bundled out Kenya for 93 and romped home with seven wickets to spare.

It was a dream come true for captain Mohammad Nabi, who shone for his team with his two wickets for 10 runs and an unbeaten 46.

"I can't express my feelings. It is a very big day in my life. I'm sure there will be huge celebrations back home," Nabi told the International Cricket Council website. "I'm happy for the people of Afghanistan and look forward to playing in Australia and New Zealand.

Former Pakistan fast bowler Kabir Khan, the coach of Afghanistan, is hoping his team get experience of playing the top sides before the World Cup.

"I'm expecting a great response in Australia and New Zealand," Kabir said. "The big teams will like to punish us but we'll prepare as best as we can and try to show the world what we're capable of."

Afghanistan will be grouped in Pool A with Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and another qualifier in the tournament which takes place from 14 February to 29 March 2015.

India won the last 50-over World Cup at home in 2011. The remaining two associate places for 2015 will be decided by a qualifying tournament in New Zealand next year.