The countdown for the 2015 Cricket World Cup is on and Hawke’s Bay fans will get their opportunity to see the Black Caps pursuing the shining silverware in just over a month’s time.
Work is under way on pitch preparation for the three Napier-based pool matches after last Tuesday’s international against Pakistan.
The Brendon McCullum-led Black Caps will take on cup newcomers Afghanistan at McLean Park on March 8 in a day-night fixture.
While Afghanistan will go into the match wearing the minnows tag, they have crept up the international rankings after being formed only 14 years ago.
To meet a side such as the Black Caps in an international tournament would not have even been a distant dream back then – but their rise has belied any suggestion they will be here only to make up the numbers, Cricket New Zealand officials say.
For the Black Caps, who are in the tough Group A (alongside Australia, England, Bangladesh, Scotland, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka) the McLean Park clash will be a must-win situation.
And for the Bay it will be important to fill the ground and get locals in behind their team, and the tournament, with Cricket New Zealand hoping to be able to put up the “sold out” sign up at a ground which has a long, and successful, association with the national team.
At this stage tickets are still available, with the Napier clash understood to be the only pool game for the Black Caps not to yet reach the sell-out stage.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (then Federation) was formed in 1995 and by 2008 its team was playing in Division 5 of the ICC World Cricket League.
With highly respected coach Andy Moles steering the side, they booked a place in the World Cup after securing a win over Kenya in October 2013.
It will be Afghanistan’s first World Cup campaign, and the coach is keen to make an impact against the co-hosts.
“My wish would be to emulate what Ireland have done in the last couple of World Cups,” Moles said.
“They have caused shocks by playing positive, entertaining cricket”.
Afghanistan would be following their example, he said.
Ticket prices for the Afghanistan match in Napier start at $5 for children and $20 for adults, with seated category A tickets at $61 and $40.
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