The Remarkable Rise of Afghanistan Cricket

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The Remarkable Rise of Afghanistan Cricket

Afghanistan Cricket: Sixteen years ago, Afghanistan found themselves in Division 5 of the ICC World Cricket League, competing against teams like Japan, Singapore, and Botswana. Fast forward to today, and they stand proudly in the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup, surpassing cricket giants like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the West Indies. Let’s take a look at the rise of Afghanistan cricket team’s journey is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Born out of adversity, this team emerged as one of the sport’s most heartwarming success stories in the past decade

The Beginning of Afghanistan Cricket

Afghanistan cricket journey began in Pakistani refugee camps in the late twentieth century, where the sport provided a sense of belonging and an escape from the chaos at home. Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was established in 1995, and the national squad was constituted in 2001. Initially, they competed against other Asian Cricket Council teams, setting the framework for future success.

Early Challenges

The early years presented numerous problems. The team struggled to develop due to a lack of infrastructure and resources in the country, as well as political instability. However, the youth’s enthusiasm for cricket and support from the expatriate community enabled the squad to endure.

The Remarkable Rise of Afghanistan Cricket
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Breaking onto the International Scene

Afghanistan made their international cricket debut in 2004, participating in the ACC Trophy. Their performance steadily improved, and in 2009, they qualified for the ICC World Cup Qualifier, coming sixth. This achievement gained them One Day International (ODI) status, which was a key milestone in their cricketing career.

Rapid Progress

The team’s progress increased dramatically. Afghanistan participated in their first major ICC event, the ICC World Twenty20, held in the West Indies in 2010. Although they did not go beyond the group stage, their participation signaled the beginning of their global presence.

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Afghanistan qualified for its first ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015. While they only won one match in the competition, their competitive spirit and skill earned them praise from cricket fans and experts throughout the world.

Test Status and Major Achievements

The highest point of Afghanistan Cricket progress took place in 2017, when the International Cricket Council (ICC) granted them Full Member status, allowing them to play Test cricket. Afghanistan made their Test debut against India in June 2018, which was a historic event for the country. They won their first Test against Ireland in March 2019, showcasing their developing strength in the longest version of the game. In the ICC 2023 Cricket world cup, they arrived at the big stage beating former champions England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They achieved their greatest success when they reached the semi-finals of ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

Key Players

Several players have contributed significantly to Afghanistan cricket success. Rashid Khan, one of the world’s top leg-spinners, has excelled in international cricket and several T20 tournaments. Mohammad Nabi, noted for his versatile qualities, has been a pillar of strength for the club. Other famous players include Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hazratullah Zazai, and Asghar Afghan, all of whom have made significant contributions to Afghanistan’s progress.

In May 2003, just after Australia clinched their third Cricket World Cup, trials were held for the first Afghan cricket team in Kabul. Among the trialists was Mohammad Nabi, who would later become a key figure in Afghan cricket.

Support from BCCI

The Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida became Afghanistan’s temporary “home ground” in 2015, courtesy of the BCCI. Shifting their base from Sharjah, they played international matches against Ireland in Greater Noida in 2017. But Greater Noida isn’t their only home—they also “hosted” a Twenty20 series against Bangladesh in Dehradun.

The Remarkable Rise of Afghanistan Cricket
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium where Afghanistan play International Cricket

The BCCI not only provided facilities but also guided Afghanistan’s cricketing journey. Former India players Lalchand Rajput, Manoj Prabhakar, and Ajay Jadeja have all coached the Afghan team. Jadeja, in particular, served as their mentor during the ODI World Cup in 2023.

Way Forward

Looking ahead, Afghanistan hopes to strengthen its standing in all aspects of the game. With a youthful and talented squad, they are geared to reach new heights in the next years. The ICC’s and the worldwide cricket community’s support will be critical to their continued success.

Can Afghanistan Cricket Team become the best in the world? Comment and let us know.

Also read, What is the Prize Money for the Men’s T20 World Cup 2024?

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