Afghanistan Cricket History
The name Afghanistan brings into our mind images of a war torn nation with many radical groups fighting for power and supremacy. Afghanistan also faced some foreign invasions from USSR and USA later. But the nation is slowly coming back to the much cherished prosperity. Cricket has played a great role in bringing some solace for these people. Cricket is a bonding force for these people who are otherwise divided in terms of their caste, creed and politics.
Evolution of Afghanistan Cricket
Evolution of Afghanistan Cricket
Cricket began to creep into Afghan blood when they were in Pakistan refuge camps due to Soviet invasion. You can see some similarity in the style of cricket in Afghanistan to that of Pakistan due to the very same reason. Even after returning from refugee camps, these Afghan boys didn't let cricket go from their heart and blood. Slowly it gained popularity across the nation. The parents of these young boys were initially opposed to the idea of cricket as they feared that their sons wont earn much by going after this silly game. But later the scenario changed. Taliban government was against the sport and they banned cricket. But later they removed the ban and even sought help from Pakistan to nurture the game. Taj Malik was the man behind developing the game in Afghanistan. He gave coaching to the raw talent and developed them into a team. Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was formed in 1995. Nawroz Mangal was their first cricket team captain for international games.
Introduction to the International Arena
Afghanistan played their first ODI against Scotland which they won by 89 runs. Their introduction to T20 was not so smooth as they lost the match to Ireland. But it was way back in 2010 and Afghanistan team looks a really different outfit now. Ireland was defeated in T20 and ODI series by Afghanistan in the recently concluded tournament which was held at Dehradun in India in 2019.
Afghanistan played their first test against India at Bangalore in 2018. But it was a forgettable performance and they were no match for the mighty Indians. But their test membership was a great step towards the future. Afghanistan became an affiliate member of ICC in 2001. It gained membership of Asian Cricket Council in 2003. Slowly and steadily Afghanistan cricket grew. In 2010, Afghanistan qualified for their first T20 world cup. It was just a start and they had nothing to boast about their performance in the tournament. In 2016 T20 world cup, they improved their performance and reached upto the super 10 level.
Afghanistan reached the 50 over world cup stage in 2015. Their first game was against Bangladesh in the Australian Capital, Canberra. Afghanistan registered their first world cup win again Scotland. They were the champion in world cup qualifier in 2018 and a set to lock horns with the opponents in the world cup 2019 to be held at England and Wales.
Afghanistan Cricket Achievements
Interestingly Afghanistan holds the record for the highest T20 score. They scored 278/3 against Ireland at Dehradun in February 2019. Afghanistan had also other moments of glory too. They had defeated Zimbabwe when they toured the African nation in 2015. West Indies were tied 1-1 in an ODI series later. Sri Lanka too tasted defeats at their hands when the island nation was bowled out for 158 against 249 made by Afghanistan. Afghanistan attracted world attention when the held India for a draw in Asia Cup 2018. Mohammed Shehzad was the hero of the match when he scored a gritty 124.
Afghanistan Cricket Today
Afghanistan have never played an international match in their home. Sharjah stadium was selected as their home ground for international matches. As per agreement with BCCI, Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik sports complex in Noida was also opted as home ground for them. Currently work is going on to build cricket stadiums in Afghanistan. They have almost completed the work of Kabul national cricket stadium, Ghazi Amanullah International stadium and many more are waiting for the final completion works.
Afghan spinners Rashid Khan(left) and Mohammed Nabi(right)
along with Shikhar Dhawan during IPL
Currently many Afghan players find themselves picked by T20 Premier Leagues across the world. Some of the players have made their way to the T20 clubs in India, Australia, Pakistan and so on. Among all, Afghanistan spinners like Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman seems to be of greatest demand. These Afghan spinners are expected to bring some glory to the nation when they participate in their second 50 over world cup to be played in England and Wales. The Afghan batsmen too have some quality and the once minnows of the game are expected to display some tough cricket for their opponents.