Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 19th 2015 Contents A35
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National track athlete
won the men's indoor
400m race at the
Don Kirby Open in
Mexico, on Saturday.
"Yes, we were given
a wake-up call.
Australia have set
the standard and
New Zealand is
going to be just as
hard we feel."
ALI anticipates a
tough match against
tomorrow in the ICC
(Ext: 2213, 2711, 2212,
Michael Clarke will make
his comeback from injury
in Saturday's World Cup
Bangladesh in Brisbane,
coach Darren Lehmann
Clarke, who had
hamstring surgery less
than two months ago and
was set the deadline of
Australia's second Pool A
fixture if he was to take
any part in the World Cup,
was widely understood to
be on schedule to play
this weekend after
coming through a couple
of warm-up games.
But Lehmann left no
room for any remaining
doubt when, asked about
Clarke's participation, he
said in an exchange
broadcast on Sky Sports
News: "Yeah, he's playing
mate." Clarke is therefore
set to replace George
Bailey, who led Australia
to a big opening victory
against England in
Melbourne last week.
Clarke to make comeback against Bangladesh
national cricket team s first appearance
at the World Cup was a losing one,
but its inclusion among the ranks of
elite countries in the sport was a vic-
tory in itself even before a ball was
The Afghans got off to a promising
start, and for a while the fairytale ending
seemed a potential reality. But hampered
by inexperience, they lost by 105 runs
to Bangladesh, which has been playing
in World Cup tournaments since 1999.
While they entered the tournament
as underdogs, they were the sentimental
favourites of many. Even the US embassy
in Kabul mistakenly tweeted its con-
gratulations to the Afghan team for their
win over Bangladesh in the early stages
of the match, then admitted they were
premature in doing so.
While the red and green of
Bangladesh supporters appeared to
dominate the drum-pounding stands
at Canberra s Manuka Oval, the unusual
spectacle of cricket fans parading the
intricate black, red, green and white
flags of Afghanistan, many with ornate
gold edgings, also featured prominent-
ly. The Afghan flag is still a novelty at
international cricket games and the sight
of it lends a sense of normality and
national cohesion that the war-ravaged
Central Asian country has yet to grow
Afghanistan s English coach Andy
Moles said his team was better than
what it showed Wednesday.
"I think we ve moved past that," he
said at a post-match media conference
when asked about the excitement of
his team s debut. "Honestly we re here
to compete. We genuinely thought this
is a game that we could win tonight."
The Afghan diaspora in Australia
came from far and wide to see their
country s proudest moment in a short
The earliest Afghan immigrants came
to Australia in the 19th century to drive
the pioneering camel trains that helped
open up the country s arid interior. But
many Afghans in Australia are refugees
of recent wars who live in the largest
cities on the coast.
Many, such as Naqib Akbrai, 30, drove
the 300 kilometres (190 miles) from
Sydney, Australia s largest city, to support
the Afghanistan team in the national
capital of Canberra.
"It s a big game. It s a dream come
true," he said as he waited with friends
for the Manuka Oval gates to be
opened to a sellout crowd of 12,000.
For Akbrai, Afghanistan s debut
match in the most prestigious event
in limited-overs cricket was a victory
for his war-weary homeland, regard-
less of the result.
"Afghanistan playing in a World
Cup, it s all we could ask for," he said.
"We re really positive. Hopefully we
should win. I m sure about 80 per
cent of Afghanistan is watching the
game on TV today."
Roman Sadath, 31, flew from Mel-
bourne, Australia s second-largest city,
for the game. He waited at the gate
to meet his friends who made the
800-kilometre (500-mile) journey by
"The most important thing is that
they qualified for 2015. If they win any
games, that s good," said Sadath, who
migrated to Melbourne 18 years ago.
The rivalry between the two camps
of cricketing supporters was largely
friendly, with everyone recognising the
match as a momentous occasion. The
Afghan team has come a long way
quickly in the face of many challenges
including security threats, ruined infra-
structure and persistent poverty.
The first official act of the game
went Bangladesh s way when it won
the toss to decide which team had the
choice of batting or bowling first---
Bangladesh elected to bat.
Afghanistan s first wicket after an
hour of cricket brought an appreciative
roar from an excited crowd.
Mirwais Ashraf created history in
the 15th over when he had Bangladesh
opener Tamim Iqbal (19) acrobatically
caught by wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai
to take Afghanistan s first World Cup
The 26-year-old fast bowler struck
again in his next over to trap Anamul
Haque (29) leg before wicket as
Bangladesh slipped to 52-2.
Afghanistan will have another
chance to win its first match at the
World Cup on Sunday when it plays
Sri Lanka in Dunedin. (AP)
ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP
No fairy tale for Afghanistan
the umpire for the
Hasan Shakib, left,
during their Cricket
World Cup Pool A
match in Canberra,
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