Afghanistan and cricket: Sport's greatest love story

back icon
safari
05 Nov 2021 | 09:30 PM
authorcricket.com staff

Afghanistan and cricket: Sport's greatest love story

Afghanistan's love for cricket began from refugee camps and took giant strides to become of one of the best in the world

At every match of the ongoing T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, there are hoards of people who come dressed in Afghanistan's traditional attire, the national colours painted across their bodies and waving flags. They are not often seen going through wild mood swings or belt out boisterous chants that fans from other Asian countries are known for. They are just there to enjoy a good game of cricket.

The team entered the tournament with things that are more concerning than cricket. The Taliban takeover of the country, safety of their loved ones amid the escalating violence in the country are on the back of their minds. However, the transcending nature of the cricket was in full display with the way the Afghans played in the Super 12s so far.

Despite playing just three T20Is all year in build up to the tournament, Mohammad Nabi's men have been spectacular with the ball and the bat. By amalgamating sixers and spin prowess, they have been able to obliterate Scotland and Namibia. They are the best six-hitting side so far, averaging 7.25 sixes every match and have hit a boundary every 5.8 ball, which is better than England's average of 6 balls per boundary and Pakistan's 6.3.

It's not just a flash in the pan as Afghanistan have been consistently clearing the ropes since 2016 World T20. Their average 14.45 balls per six over the last five years is just below the West Indies' 13.13. Franchise league has contributed heavily to their batters' understanding of the format as the likes of Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Nabi himself have been important overseas picks for teams. 

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan, unsurprisingly, has played in every major league this year and still remains a threat to the batsmen who have faced him countless times in those tournaments. However, the emergence of 21-year old Mujeeb Ur Rahman and medium-pacer Naveen ul Haq are proof of a bright future for Afghan cricket.


They lost against traditional superpowers Pakistan and India, but never compromised on their playing style. Their spinners kept probing, they batsmen kept hitting boundaries even if the game was out of their reach. The loyalty to their playing philosophy is instilled by head coach Lance Klusener, whose reputation as a player was built by being the aggressor at all times. According to Klusener, the togetherness of the squad where every member is considered part of the family, brings out the best in each other.

"When I first met the guys, everyone was like 'Welcome to the family'. We spend a lot of time together and we get on well together and that's what the most important thing for me. There are lot of areas to work on, but there is unbelievable talent in the dressing room," the South African told ACB.

According to Klusener, decision making is the area where his team needs to improve on.

"If we had played more cricket against better oppositions, we could've made smarter decisions. It's young talent, but its the decision making against big teams is what has let us down a little bit."

From playing in refugee camps in the 2000s to being a side teeming with international superstars, Afghanistan cricket has come a long way by overcoming unbelievable odds. What keeps the fire burning? Keeper-batter Shahzad explains it in the most the simplest and profound ways possible.

"Even if we lose or win, I am happy because everywhere its just full of tension. When we come to the ground, we play and enjoy."

heart
shareGray Share
Tags
AfghanistanMohammad NabiRashid KhanMohammad ShahzadNaveen-ul-Haq

Related Articles

safari
ANALYSIS
Can India rediscover their mojo against in-form Afghanistan?
Kohli and Co. are almost out of the semifinal race and will need quite a few things to go in their favour to qualify for the knockouts
userHardik Worah
02 Nov 2021
safari
ANALYSIS
Afghanistan, Pakistan at pole position to swing Group 2 dynamics
While Pakistan are a pacer-heavy side and Afghanistan are bolstered by the presence of Rashid, Nabi, Mujeeb, and Naveen Ul-Haq
userBastab K Parida
28 Oct 2021
safari
REPORT
Clinical Afghanistan crush Scotland by 130 runs
Mujeeb Ur Rahman claimed 5-20 while Najibullah Zadran smashed 59 off 34 balls in a big win
usercricket.com staff
25 Oct 2021
safari
OPINION
Bold and brave Afghanistan turn heads around
Coming into the World Cup, Afghanistan had just played three T20I matches the entire year
userAakash Sivasubramaniam
25 Oct 2021
safari
ANALYSIS
Afghanistan aim to spoil Scotland's dream run
Afghanistan and Scotland have faced each other six times in T20Is with the former maintaining a 100 percent win record
userShubh Aggarwal
24 Oct 2021
safari
OPINION
Talented Afghanistan in need of big performances
Despite the lack of international cricket this year, Afghanistan players have been part of franchise leagues throughout the year
userSamarnath Soory
24 Oct 2021
safari
NEWS
Klusener plots Afghanistan World T20 bid from home after Taliban takeover
The Afghanistan head coach is also not worried about the change in captaincy
userAFP
01 Oct 2021
safari
NEWS
Rashid steps down as Afghanistan captain; Nabi to take over
The leg-spinner is miffed that he was not consulted before ACB announced the T20 World Cup 2021 squad
usercricket.com staff
09 Sep 2021
safari
NEWS
Lance Klusener named head coach of Afghanistan
He will commence his role prior to the series against West Indies in November
userCricket.com Staff
27 Sep 2019
safari
NEWS
Pant a phenomenal talent, but needs to learn from others' mistakes: Klusener
The former South Africa all-rounder is currently in India serving as South Africa's limited-overs batting coach
userPTI
13 Sep 2019
logo
Cricket like never before
Follow us on
FacebookTwitterLinkedin
@ 2020 cricket.com | All rights reserved