T20 World Cup: Paceman Naveen hopeful Afghanistan can make it to semis

Paceman Naveen-ul-Haq is confident that Afghanistan can make their way out of a tough group at the Twenty20 World Cup despite a narrow loss to Pakistan in Dubai on Friday and with heavyweights, India and New Zealand still to follow.

Afghanistan routed Scotland in their opener but came up short against Pakistan, who were bailed out by the late brilliance of Asif Ali as he smashed four sixes in the penultimate over.

“The mood in the camp is a bit dull at the moment because, after every close game, when you lose a close game, it is like desperate. You have to get back,” said Naveen ahead of their clash against Namibia in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

“The table is wide open, other than Pakistan, who has already confirmed their spot… India has played one and lost one. And New Zealand has played one and lost one… I see Afghanistan beating and having a great chance against any team in this competition.”

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Namibia’s Craig Williams said that their experience of facing Afghanistan in the past should come in handy, insisting that their batsmen were more than capable of tackling the threat posed by the opposition’s spin attack.

“We’ve played Afghanistan, I mean, many, many times in the past. We know what they can do. So it’s just about on the day being able to handle our nerves and execute the plans to put in place,” he said.

“I’ll put the vulnerability (recent struggles against spin) down to a bit of nerves. We actually play spin very well. Our conditions back home aren’t flat wickets. They’re quite low and slow… so we’ve put in really good preparation.”

Namibia, playing at their first major T20 tournament, scraped past Scotland earlier this week, and Williams added that the remaining games were an opportunity to make a mark on the world stage.

“It would be fantastic if we can get the likes of Gerhard Erasmus and JJ (Smit) and Ruben Trumpelmann playing around the world. Still, looking for our first Namibian to play in the IPL. So hopefully after this tournament, we can get one of those deals on the table,” he said.

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