One of the oldest game of the history and so-called ‘Gentleman’s game’ has seen a lot of changes over the year. Many great players emerged from this level of the game to become a national hero. Many teams fight for the tournament being hosted in regular intervals to qualify & become champion. Yes, we are talking about cricket. It’s the unofficial national game of India & many other countries. Billions of people are now connected with these sports. Our country hosts a major infrastructure behind it. So, among many surprises cricket emerged, the rise of Afghanistan as a cricket team is top of them.
Who knows that’s a war-torn terrorist dominating country become a cricket nation so quickly. The history behind their rise as a strong team is very impressive. The rise of the Afghan cricket team is even more impressive given how quickly it has progressed. For the first time ever, Afghanistan qualified for the cricket World Cup last year. They stood face to face, or rather wicket to wicket, with the world’s cricketing best. This is quite a feat given that it was only twenty years ago that Afghanistan formed a Cricket Federation (now known as the Afghanistan Cricket Board). A majority of that time the country has seen the toppling of the Taliban government and the insurgency that has followed.
Of all the success stories created by Afghanistan’s extraordinary rise, none is more striking than that of Rashid Khan. He is a 19-year-old leg spinner who may be the most famous Afghan alive. This year he became the youngest man ever to be ranked best bowler in the world. To watch him is a celebration: TVs are set up in open spaces so that Afghans can watch him as a community. In open rebellion against the terrorists who scatter communities in fear. In a country where not long ago the mere act of playing cricket was taboo, Khan is the face of hope.
Let’s see the previous stages & struggles behind this success:
The earliest record of cricket in Afghanistan is of British troops playing a match in Kabul in 1839, though it appears that no long-lasting legacy of cricket was left by the British. In the 1990s, cricket became popular amongst the Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan. The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed there in 1995. They continued to play cricket on their return to their home country. Like all sports, cricket was originally banned by the Taliban. But cricket became an exception in 2000 (being the only sport in Afghanistan to be approved by the Taliban) and the Afghanistan Cricket Federation was elected as an affiliate member of the ICC the following year.
They won their first tournament in 2007, sharing the ACC Twenty20 Cup with Oman after the two tied in the final. Afghans began their qualifying campaign for the 2011 World Cup in Jersey in 2008, winning Division Five of the World Cricket League. They finished third in the ACC Trophy Elite tournament the same year and won a second consecutive WCL tournament, Division Four in Tanzania later in the year.
In January 2009, Afghanistan progressed to the 2009 World Cup Qualifier by winning Division Three of the World Cricket League in Buenos Aires, topping the table on net run rate ahead of Uganda and Papua New Guinea.
Get ODI Status:
Afghans got to play their first one day international against Scotland in 2009 in world cup qualifiers. Since then they showed some pretty much fresh talent to amaze the world where they won by 89 runs. In the 2011 Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament, Afghanistan failed to progress to the World Cup but earned ODI status for four years. After playing a lot against Afghanistan finally, host a bilateral series in 2016 against a test playing nation Zimbabwe in which they won 3-2 on their home ground. Then they went played against Bangladesh in which they lost 2-1. In late 2017 they went the Caribbean to play against West Indies but the series was drawn by 1-1.
We first saw the Afghanistan team in T-20 cricket in 2010 but they ended last in that tournament. In 2012 they become champion in world T-20 qualifier and earned qualifications for the T-20 world cup in 2012. In 2014 they also qualified in world T-20 but finished the tournament after winning just 1 match. In 2016 world T-20 they won 3 matches out of 7 in group stages but didn’t qualify for the semifinals.
On 22 June 2017, the International Cricket Council (ICC) awarded Afghanistan full Test status, along with Ireland. In December 2017, the ICC confirmed that Afghanistan was scheduled to play their first Test against India, in late 2018. According to the ICC Future Tours Programme for 2019–23, Afghanistan is scheduled to play thirteen Tests.
Recently they played their inaugural test against India in Bangalore. In first innings, India posted 474 runs thanks to centuries from both Shikhar Dhawan & Murali Vijay. In the late session of the first, they Afghans bowlers bowled some good delivery and managed to take 5 wickets. But in the 2nd innings, they didn’t perform well with their batters. They scored only 103 in their first innings lead them to follow on. But on the second innings, they couldn’t come up with patience and surrender in the same manner in the score of 109. Thus India wins the test by an innings & 262 runs.
MoU between ACB & BCCI:
In March 2018 BCCI signed a MoU with ACB stated that from now every team visiting India will play a practice series against Afghanistan & the newly build Dehradun stadium will be their secondary hone ground.
Though Afghanistan cricketer entertains us with some real cricket skill in all 3 format of cricket, we except that they will better themselves and established themselves as a strong cricket nation.