How did cricket become popular in Afghanistan: Cricket is the most popular sport in Afghanistan, a country that has risen from the lower ranks to the highest level of international cricket in a remarkable span of time. But how did cricket capture the hearts and minds of millions afghanis and How did cricket become popular in Afghanistan?
The story of how did cricket become popular in Afghanistan
The origins of cricket in Afghanistan can be traced back to the 19th century, when British troops played the game in Kabul during the Anglo-Afghan Wars1. However, cricket did not leave a lasting legacy in the country until the 1990s, when Afghan refugees living in Pakistan picked up the game from their hosts, who are passionate about cricket.
As Afghans returned to their homeland after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, they brought cricket with them. The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995 and became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 20013. The national team was also established in 2001 and started playing in regional tournaments.
The team’s rise was rapid and impressive. In 2007, they became joint winners of the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup and won the ICC World Cricket League Division Five. In 2009, they gained one-day international status and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. In 2010, they qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 and became an associate member of the ICC.
In 2015, Afghanistan made their debut in the ICC Cricket World Cup and achieved their first win against Scotland4. In 2017, they were granted full membership of the ICC and Test status, becoming the 12th Test-playing nation4. In 2018, they played their first Test match against India and won their first Test against Ireland in 20194.
In 2023, Afghanistan stunned the cricket world by beating defending champions England and arch-rivals Pakistan in their second and fourth ODI World Cup matches respectively. They set England a target of 284 runs which they successfully defended bowling out the reigning champions for 215. They then pulled off their highest successful chase in ODIs by reaching Pakistan’s target of 283 with eight wickets and six balls remaining in Chennai, with Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah all scoring half-centuries6. These historic victories sent Afghanistan to sixth place in the points table and England to the bottom.
Cricket is more than just a game for Afghans; it is a symbol of hope, pride, and unity. Cricket has helped Afghans cope with war, poverty, and displacement. It has also given them a positive identity and recognition on the global stage. Cricket has also fostered social development and community engagement, as young players are mentored and guided by senior players and coaches. Cricket has also been used as a platform to promote peace and harmony among different ethnic groups and regions.
Cricket is a phenomenon that has transformed Afghanistan in many ways. It is a testament to the resilience, talent, and passion of the Afghan people. It is a story that inspires and amazes the world.
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