On hot sunny day of March 27, 2016 in Vidharba Cricket Stadium in India, something special happened. Afghanistan had defeated mighty West Indies in super-10s match in World T20 tournament (who were undefeated and went on to eventually win the T20 World Cup). It came as an emotional and special moment to the war-torn Afghanistan, reeling under severe economic, political and war-related oppression.
Afghanistan’s journey to stardom hasn’t been a bed of roses. Most of the players in the Afghanistan national team have grown up in refugee camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan with little access to food and water let alone getting cricketing equipment. Most of the equipment that they got initially was donated by embassies in Afghanistan and some like-minded people. All along the way they have met with various roadblocks-be it terrorism, absence of training facilities, cash crunch and most importantly little or no exposure to regular cricketing experience. So it was very heartening to see Afghanistan in their short 13-year stint in cricket achieve many things and give awe-inspiring performances.
Here are some quick facts about the progress of team Afghanistan
- Cricket was initially banned by the Taliban but in 2000 they removed the ban thus paving way for the establishment of Afghanistan Cricket Board in 2001.
- They regularly featured in cricketingA tournaments for Associate nations and have regularly defeated much fancied opponents like Netherlands, Scotland and UAE.
- In 2008, Afghanistan began its cricketing journey on the world stage by entering the World Cricket League Division 5. In 2010, the country played in its first major international tournament, the World Twenty20.
- They couldn’t progress through the qualifying stages in the 2011 World cup. However, they were granted ODI recognition for next four years by the ICC.
- They made their first appearance in the International stage came in 2012 T20 World cup in Srilanka. They failed to win any matches and bowed out of the tournament.
- In 2013, they qualified for the 2015 World cup after defeating Kenya. It was in 2015 world cup where Afghanistan tasted their first success against a much fancied and experienced Scotland side.
- In the 2016 T20 World cup beat Scotland, Zimbabwe and the formidable West Indies in the qualifying stage, however they lost the subsequent matches against England, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
- They are currently ranked 9th in the T20 rankings-above the test playing nations like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
- BCCI has been a long time partner of ACB and have regularly provided logistics and monetary support to ACB. Most recently in 2016, BCCI allowed ACB to utilize the facilities of a stadium in Noida and ACB shifted it’s base to India.
- The future tournaments of Afghanistan include a tour to West Indies in 2017 and tour to Zimbabwe.
The Afghans have endured very tough and trying times but they never allowed those barriers to hamper them. They have always produced zealous and energetic game of cricket and won many a hearts in the process. They have also managed to bring together rival factions in their home nation by their fearless cricketing ability. Hopefully in coming years, Afghanistan cricket reaches many more heights.