Afghanistan and PNG have sights on second place in ICC Intercontinental Cup table

Debutant PNG sits in fifth position on 14 points while former winner Afghanistan is seventh on seven points
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Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea (PNG) will be aiming to move up to second place in the ICC Intercontinental Cup table when they face-off in the final match of round two on Saturday, 21 November, in pursuit of their dreams for Test status. The four-day first-class fixture will be played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. 

Debutant PNG sits in fifth position on 14 points while former winner Afghanistan is seventh on seven points. The table is headed by defending champion Ireland (40 points), with Netherland second on 26 points. Any side claiming 20 maximum points will move ahead of the Dutch in second position in the eight-team competition.
 
This will be the first meeting between Afghanistan and PNG in first-class cricket. The only meeting between the two sides in international cricket was in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015 at Malahide on 23 July, when Afghanistan won by six wickets, thanks to 65 not out from Nawroz Mangal.
 
Afghanistan has played 16 matches in this first-class competition, winning 11, losing only one and drawing four since its first appearance in 2009. This is Papua New Guinea’s first appearance in the competition.
 
This outcome will put back on track either side’s ambitions of winning the ICC Intercontinental Cup and qualify for the ICC Test Challenge, which will be played against the 10th-ranked Test side on a home and away basis in 2018. If the ICC Intercontinental Cup winner wins the ICC Test Challenge, then it will secure Test status until the next ICC Test Challenge, which will take place in 2022.

Looking ahead to the series, Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai said: “The I-Cup match versus PNG is very important for us to gain 20 points and advance up in the table. We take each and every single game very seriously because it's a simple pathway to achieve Test status.  We are missing some senior players, due to visa problems, but we hope that the new and reserve players take the challenge to play well in this important game.”

PNG captain Jack Vare-Kavere commented: “Again, we are working hard to improve in all forms of the game. The longer format is one game that our boys had improved a lot since our last match against Netherlands in June. We know what to expect from the Afghanistan team, and we are confident that this will be another great opportunity to prove to ourselves what we are capable of.”

Squads 

AFGHANISTAN (to be confirmed at the toss)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA (from): Jack Vare-Kavere (captain), Charles Amini, Sese Bau, Mahuru Dai, Hiri Hiri, Vani Vagi Morea, Loa Nou, Nosaina Pokana, John Reva, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Tony Ura, Assadollah Vala, Norman Vanua 

Umpires - Buddhi Pradhan, Raveendra Wimalasiri and Ahmad Shah Durrani (third umpire)

Match Referee - David Jukes

ICC Intercontinental Cup points table

Teams      Mat    Won   Lost  Draw   Pts
Ireland             2          2          0          0          40
Netherlands     2          1          1          0          26
Hong Kong     2          1          1          0          20
Namibia          2          1          1          0          20
PNG                1          1          0          0          14
Scotland          2          0          1          1          13
Afghanistan     1          0          1          1          7
UAE                2          0          2          0          0

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