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Afghan Cricket Team Starts Final Leg of Journey to World Cup

Afghanistan, cricket's most unexpected new international powerhouse, today started the final leg of a long journey towards the 2011 World Cup with two weeks of competition in South Africa that will determine whether the young team moves on to the sport's highest tournament. The Afghan squad is scheduled to open their quest with a match against Denmark.

Since first beating Japan in the lowest ranking pool 10 months ago, Afghanistan's national cricket team has surprised more established contenders with victories on three continents and while rising through three divisions. If the team can finish amongst the top four of the 12 competing in South Africa, it will move on to the World Cup.

Though cricket was first played in Afghanistan by British troops in 1839, the sport only took hold recently when it was brought over by Afghans that lived as refugees in Pakistan during the Soviet invasion and subsequent internal conflict. Afghanistan has no cricket facilities of its own, and many of the team's home games have been played outside of the country. Regardless of the challenges they have faced, the Afghan squad has impressed international audiences with their level of play and excited domestic audiences with the hope of a bid in the 2011 World Cup.

Related News: Afghan Cricket Team Moves on to World Cup Qualifier

                      Cricket Victory Stirs Afghan National Pride
                      Afghanistan Continues Cricket Victories, Looks Towards World Cup

                      World Cup Awaits Afghan Cricketers (New York Times)

                      Afghan Slumdog Millionaires Target Cricket World Cup Place (Bloomberg)


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