Nagpur: Beaming after his wards scripted a historic win in the ICC World Twenty20, Afghanistan's batting coach Inzamam-ul Haq says the strife-torn country can 'flourish' in sports if there is peace and facilities.
The minnows stunned 2012 champions West Indies by six runs in their final group league encounter of the ICC World T20 here to sign off on a memorable note.
Talking about cricket, peace and character in Afghanistan, Inzamam said, "In the last two-three years there has been a lot of activity -- not just cricket, but football and other sports too -- which is very healthy, for any country. If there is peace and there are facilities, sport will flourish better. We couldn't play as well as we wanted to, we are not in the semifinals, but we didn't play like absolute newcomers."
The former Pakistan batting great praised his team's self-belief, and reiterated the call for more opportunities to play against the Full Members.
"There is no doubt it's a big win for us. Whether it's the ODI or T20 World Cup, we hadn't won a match (against a top team), so this is definitely big. It's also a sign that this team can do even better if they get opportunities," Inzamam, who was appointed coach of Afghanistan in November 2015, said.
The win came on the back of some spirited shows against other big teams in the tournament.
"All our previous matches have been close. There haven't been one-sided matches, it's not like a team makes 200 against us and we are all out for 100 or 150.
"The team has been fighting, and the belief was always there. But right now Afghanistan haven't had that exposure of winning against big teams. The finishing point has not been seen yet. But now that we have won this, it will definitely help. And we had a strong belief that if we can come so close, we can win too. Today it has happened.
"We could have won against England too, there was a close game against Sri Lanka too. So we knew we had the potential to win, but you still need that win. The more we play against big teams, the more we'll learn, and can perform even better."
Inzamam also credited former India seamer Manoj Prabhakar, now Afghanistan's bowling coach, for the team's improved showings.
"If we are defending 124, it means the bowling coach has had a role. Manoj bhai is a very experienced player and coach, so the boys have benefitted from him. He's also given them advice, it's really great."