Afghanistan makes the headlines mostly because of all kind of wrong reasons due to huge terrorist activities in the country. But in the last few years the scenario has changed a lot mostly due to their immense rise in World Cricket.
In the early 90s cricket became popular amongst Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan and thus the Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995. Under constant terrorist pressure, any kind of sports was initially banned in Afghanistan. But the turn of the century saw a change in heart and cricket was allowed to be played in Afghanistan. The Afghan Cricket Board with the help of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appealed to the International Cricket Council (ICC) to become a member of it. They became an affiliate member of the ICC in 2001.
The Cricketing world got the first proper glimpse of them in 2010 when they qualified for ICC T20 World Cup held held in West Indies. They played their first T20 World Cup against India. Their inexperience showed on the big stage but they gave a good account of themselves. Cricketing world noticed the talent.
In 2011 though Afghanistan failed to qualify for the 50 over World Cup, they earned One Day International status for four years and played first ODI against Scotland. Finally after a while they qualified for the 2015 World Cup in Australia with a team full of talent and Mohammed Nabi being their talisman.
So how a nation struggling with economy and terrorism has come this far that too without a proper cricket stadium back in their country? The answer is pretty ominus. Riding on hunger to succeed and fueled by passion they have come this far. As the cricketing experts say, there is no substitute of experience. Afghanistan players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi not only plays in different corners of the world for various franchises but they are also star members of those. This exposure helped them to learn and grow as a cricketer and their success inspires the younger generation back in their country.
Most of their success have came in the shortest format of the game. They are currently ranked 8th in the ICC T20 world rankings just behind Sri Lanka and ahead of the likes of West Indies and Bangladesh. Afghanistan currently holds the record of highest ever T20 score in a match. Rashid Khan’s team made 278-3 against Ireland at their adapted home in Dehradun on 23 February, 2019.
Afghan Cricket team’s biggest moment in their short cricketing history came when they became a Test playing nation. They were awarded full membership of ICC and eligibility to play Test cricket on 22 June, 2017 after almost a decade of playing top class International Cricket. Afghanistan played their first test match in June 2018 led by Asghar Afghan against India at Bengaluru. On March 2019 they beat Ireland to secure their first test win in only their second test match. Only Pakistan and England have achieved a test victory so early in their test history.
Over the last decade the Afghan players entertained the world with their cricket that too with a smile on their faces. Though there are a lot of things still remain to learn and achieve, the world already has a new Cricket mad nation from the subcontinent.
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