A land of dry mountains, unforgiving and beautiful landscapes with even more colorful people, the land of The Pathan’s had never been allowed to reach their epitome and flourish.
Starting with the Greek invaders, the Mughals, for a long time the Queen and finally the Taliban, Afghanistan was almost diminished to ruins, time and again.
Life in the laps of the Hindu Kush wasn’t easy.
Kids were being denied education, let alone an opportunity to play sports. Even though Her Majesty’s people brought about cricket in this land, it did not quite stick around.
As the Taliban took over the administration, cricket, along with all other sports, were banned from being played in the country. Despite the existence of the Afghanistan Cricket Federation, the game never gained popularity till the turn of the century.
In 2000, luckily, the ban over the sport was lifted, and ACF was inducted as a member of the ICC, the following year. Their first-ever victory in the sport came against Pakistan in 2003.
Today their cricket team is on the rise, with having the tenth position in both Tests and the single-day format.
The team which made headlines after qualifying for the 2010 T20 WC, only to be later trashed by both India and South Africa right in the league stages, is now placed at number seventh, above the world cup winning team, West Indies.
Image Credit: Economic Times
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has been instrumental in their progress to the world cup stages.
After showing appreciable, yet average performances in the 2015 WC, the team finally discovered a new zeal under the leadership of Md. Nabi.
Their performances got noticeably better, and the team grew to new heights.
They were the only team in 2016 T20 WC to win a match against the eventual champions, the West Indies.
With this massive growth, Afghanistan announced themselves in the international Test formats in 2017, having their first test under the recognition of ICC scheduled against their neighbor and current top-seeded test team, India, in the following year.
The Afghanistan squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Image Credit: ICC
They were already in the top ten of the single-day format by then. However, by the end of that year, quite a few senior bowlers were dealt with a number of injuries, and the team had to turn to their youth talents in hopes of reviving their form.
In came Rashid Khan. Boasting a total of 18 wickets under his name with an economy of only a little over six, he became the emerging player of IPL 2017 at the age of 18. After being the youngest test captain, he also grabbed the record of the fastest 100 wicket belt in the single-day format.
In Picture: Rashid Khan. Image Credit: India Today
Currently seeded as the best T20 bowler according to the ICC, Rashid, along with Mujeeb Ur Rehman and Mohammad Nabi, has been deemed as the most formidable spin bowling attack across all formats.
With players gaining more success in even the club based T20 games, Afghanistan has indeed become the rookie that even the champions are worried about, and indeed, they are here to stay.
Written and Edited by:- Pritwijit Chowdhury