Afghans relish Australia test
Minnows set for first 50-over clash with Australia
Last Updated: August 24, 2012 12:20pm
Michael Clarke: Insists Afghanistan have nothing to lose against Australia
Afghanistan will take on Australia on Saturday in the latest chapter of their remarkable rise in world cricket.
The Afghans only gained affiliate membership from the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001, but have risen rapidly through the rankings and will play in the World Twenty20 next month for the second time.
They have never played a 50-over match against Australia and the minnows are relishing the prospect of going head-to-head against one of the world's most famous cricketing nations in Sharjah.
Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal said: "Definitely it's a big occasion for us and we want to make the best use of it.
"We have done well against Scotland and Ireland but given a chance against Australia is a big thing and we are excited about it."
"It's an opportunity for them to come out with nothing to lose and plenty to gain and I think it will be good cricket."
Michael Clarke Quotes of the week
Afghanistan faced Pakistan in a one-day match in Sharjah in February - their first ODI against a Test-playing nation - and although they lost by seven wickets their performance proved they deserved more chances.
"We are thankful to Australia and to the ICC for making this possible," said Mangal. "Australia are real champions and hopefully we can put up a good show."
Australian captain Michael Clarke accepts Afghanistan will know the United Arab Emirates conditions better than his team-mates.
"Afghanistan know the conditions better than we do but we will try to get accustomed with the conditions quickly," commented Clarke.
"It's an opportunity for them to come out with nothing to lose and plenty to gain and I think it will be good cricket.
"They have some good fast bowlers upfront so it will be good cricket."
Clarke insists Australia will be treating the game with the utmost professionalism as they seek to regain their number one world title after slipping to number four in the rankings.
"When we left England (in July this year) we were still the number one-ranked team in the world but because of other teams playing, we've slipped back down to four," he continued.
"But to me it's about playing really good consistent cricket all around the world and I know we'll get back to being number one."