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Afghanistan… you’re an inspiration

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

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A nation whose news hurts us all. A nation unfortunately ravaged by violence and unfortunate events. Just a few weeks ago, a blast at a cricket match killed eight and injured 45. With 57% of the population under the age of 18, and also more than half living on less than a dollar a day, it is only with passion, commitment and fight that Afghanistan rises on the global stage in any sport.

Cricketing facilities and opportunities left, right and centre? No.

Natural talent and commitment? Yes.

When the Afghanistan Cricket Federation (now Afghanistan Cricket Board) was formed in 1995, there were no proper cricket pitches, or even cricket equipment. The sheer passion for the sport, from what they saw in refugee camps Pakistan, got them going.

I am in awe of the Afghanistan cricket team, and any time they win, I think of how happy their people are. Players in this Afghanistan side had to flee violence in their country, living in refugee camps in Pakistan. The people of Afghanistan don’t have it easy. It is a struggle to get education. Who knows where the next meal comes from. A lot of much more fortunate people around the world spend their time complaining about nothing. Just think of what these people go through, and it becomes much easier to appreciate what you have.

But, in what’s truly unique in sport, this Afghanistan team is the hope of a nation. It’s what people look forward to and take pride in. They get together and cheer their boys on, often in uncomfortable environments, but it doesn’t matter. It is a break away from the everyday struggle.

Lack of electricity is no deterrent for Afghanistan fans. Photo credit: @PamirNews

Rashid Khan is the sporting hero of the nation. Mohammad Nabi, Shapoor Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari and Azghar Stanikzai are some of the stalwarts that been there since the very early stages of Afghanistan’s cricket journey. Youngsters like Mujeeb Ur Rahman, along with Rashid, rise through the ranks and they perform brilliantly on the world stage, in tournaments such as the IPL. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is set the be the first Test cricketer born in the 21st century. They play with nothing but self belief.

This time just ten years ago, Afghanistan were competing in the World Cricket League Division Five tournament, their first ICC event outside Asia, beating Jersey in the final. They were attempting to qualify for the 2011 World Cup. If someone in 2008 had said that Afghanistan would play Test cricket in ten years time, you would have asked them if they had suffered a heavy knock to the head.

However, ten years later, they will play their first ever Test, against mighty India, and it’s been an incredible journey. Such has been Afghanistan’s incredible rise, no one can question that they deserve it, and being a nation that suffers a great deal, this is truly inspirational.

Their recent 3-0 T20I series win over Bangladesh was a superb achievement, and highlights just how threatening this team is, especially in subcontinent conditions. This team has what it takes to trouble quite a few sides in Test cricket, boasting a spin attack that many nations around the world could only dream of.

Their success here is indicative of the hard work they have put along their journey. They are all about overcoming obstacles. After winning Division Three, Four and Five titles from 2008, they continued their meteoric rise. In 2010, they secured their first ever World T20 birth, and chased down 494 against Canada in the I-Cup, needing over 450 on the final day. Then, Afghanistan really impressed as an Associate side from 2013, and picked up some magnificent wins along the way. In three Intercontinental Cup tournaments, they won 16, drew four and lost just one game.

But that wasn’t enough for this side.

In 2014, they beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, held in Bangladesh. They won their first ever World Cup match in 2015. They have won four T20I series against Test opposition, and also beat eventual champions West Indies in the 2016 World T20. They drew an ODI series 1-1 v West Indies in 2017. In the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, they looked gone. Yet, they went on a winning streak, qualified for the World Cup and eventually beat West Indies in the final. They have just continued to rise.

This week is a special week not only in cricket, but for an entire nation as well as outsiders who are inspired by the Afghanistan story. Test cricket will be a big challenge for Afghanistan, but they have overcome every challenge thrown to them, both on sporting and personal fronts. They have what it takes to be very competitive at this level in the coming years.

Good luck, Afghanistan. I’ll be cheering for you.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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