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Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 14:15 UK

Heroes' welcome for Afghan team

Members of the Afghan cricket team
The Afghan team has recently come on in 'leaps and boundaries'

Afghanistan's cricket team were greeted by hundreds of well-wishers on their return home after moving a step closer to qualifying for the 2011 World Cup.

The players were greeted at Kabul airport by an official delegation before they were taken to the national stadium for a ceremony.

Afghanistan came top of World Cricket's Division Four in Tanzania on Saturday.

It was an unprecedented success for the national team, who must make it through two more stages to qualify.

The next World Cup is scheduled to be held in India, Pakistan, Sir Lanka and Bangladesh in three years time.

Correspondents say that cricket is a recent introduction to Afghanistan, brought by refugees who had been living in Pakistan.

The country has no cricket stadiums.

Afghanistan defeated Italy by 93 runs on Friday, securing their fifth win in five matches and promotion to Division Three of the World Cricket League.

The victory was the country's second successive promotion - their aim now will be to finish in the top two of the six-team Division 3 tournament in Argentina in January, which would enable them to join 10 other sides at the qualifier for the 2011 World Cup in Asia.

"The boys have done very well with the bowling, batting and fielding," batsman Rais Ahmadzai said.




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