“10 years ago, we had nothing”
Shamiullah Shenwari’s words clearly depicted how hard his team has worked upon in the past few years. A nation where at every moment fears of a bomb blast or any other kind of terror attack keeps on creeping in the mind of local people, sport becomes an important medium through which people can enjoy their life. From such nation, it’s great to see fifteen players down under, playing for the Cricket World Cup and making the nation proud. Gaining such height of glory is very difficult if you consider the ongoing tensions in the country, but they have fought for it and have shown that if there is a spark of hope from within, there is no target which you can’t achieve. As Afghanistan go head to head with the top teams in the world, the nation has got something to cheer of and in some way or the other, hides the fear and tensions of the local people back there.
Going through the various divisions, starting from division 5, and making their way onto gaining a ODI status within couple of years depicts how hard the team management have worked upon. They missed the flight to the 2011 cricket world cup but were rewarded for their consistency with a place in the 2012 World T20. And as their national anthem was played on the eve of the match against India, the world caught the attention of the Afghanistan cricket team.
If you go back 7-8 years, the only facility for training was the National Cricket Academy which was run by Taj Malik, who is widely considered as the founder of Cricket in Afghanistan. From there the team went on to win Division 5 and 4 in 2008 before winning the Division 3 Cricket league to ultimately win a place in the 2011 world cup qualifying tournament.
The dream of playing in Cricket’s major showpiece event came true when they ultimately qualified for the 2015 world cup and are currently winning everybody’s hearts as they go on competing in the competition. It was a great moment when Captain Mohammad Nabi was present for the toss for their 1st ever world cup match against Bangladesh.
Afghanistan team are really giving a tough competition to the elite teams. Against Sri Lanka and Scotland, they showed that their bowling attack can rip apart the top order on their day. Sri Lanka was given a scare when the top order were sent home but due to the calmness shown by Mahela Jayawardene, they crossed the finish line without any more trouble.
Afghanistan finally registered their first world cup victory when Shapoor Zadran flicked a full toss to the leg side boundary and sending the Afghan team and supporters into delirium. Samiuallah Shenwari was in no hesitation the anchor who never lost his cool, watching his teammates going to the pavilion playing some needless shots. His 96 was one of the best innings that I have ever seen in World Cups and I would rate it far better than many centuries scored.
As years go by, this team will undoubtedly be a force to reckon with in world cricket. But for the moment, it is better if we enjoy their matches where they would hopefully continue fighting as they are in the tournament because winning or losing doesn’t matter for them. What gives pleasure to the cricketing world is watching them play and thinking how well have they done to be at this elite stage.