Cricket in Afghanistan, is not like India or Australia, there is not much money and facilities. It is difficult to give full time to a game in such a country. But despite of all odds, Afghanistan national cricket team has undergone a tremendous rise. Recently, they quilified for World Cup 2019 for first time ever.
Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed in 1995. It was being run by just 2 persons, Allah Dad and Taj Malik. They had little number of cricket kits, mostly donated by English countries.
It was not easy to make a team in war stricken country. Mr. Malik, the father of Afghan cricket used to visit different camps in Afghanistan, in search of talented cricket players. But nobody wanted to send their son to play, when they even did not have enough food. Even father of many players used to warn Malik for not to encourage their sons to play cricket.
Most of the team members grew up in refugee camps outside Pakistan near Peshawar. In 1992, Pakistan won Cricket World Cup. This victory spread cricked fever all over the nation. This was the place where they were first exposed to cricket and started playing it.
Karim Sadiq, one of the Afghanistan national cricket team opening batsman also grew up in refugee camps. He used to work in match factory by night and play cricket by day.
All the games were banned in Afghanistan by Taliban. Nobody was allowed to play as it was considered anti-islamic. But in 2000, cricket was the only game which was approved by Taliban. But it was not the end of hardships. Even government refused to support cricket, claiming it a foreigner’s game.
These international players started to play with a tennis ball amidst the noise of bombs and guns. The country’s ongoing violence threatened to kill the organised sport. It was difficult as well as dangerous for them to continue the game, but they did not stop inspite of all these hardships.
They had nothing on the name of facilities. They used rocks as wicket, there was no playground but streets to play, no pads, no helmet, no pitch and gloves but hunger to perform well.
Because of on going violence, the team had to spend most of their time to practice in Pakistan. Due to financial crices, some players had to borrow money to reach there. Even one of them used to survive just on a ₹10 biscuit packet a day. They used to work as labourer untill afternoon, and play cricket for rest of the day. Their hunger to get better, kept them going.
In 2001, Afghanistan Cricket board became affiliate member of ICC (International Cricket Council). The team played in two Pakistani tournament in 2003.
In 2004, Afghan team started playing in Asian regional tournament and ended up at 6th place in their first ACC Trophy.
In 2007, they won their first tournament that was ACC T20 cup. They shared the victory with Oman because of tie.
In 2008, the team played and conquered World Cricket League division 5, their first ICC tournament outside Asia in Jersey, USA.
Because of their quick adaptability to every challenge, they kept growing. In 2009, they reached World Cup 2009 qualifier by winning division three of world cricket league. Afghanistan failed to reach World Cup, but earned 4 years ODI status.
Afghanistan won ACC T20 Cup, 2009 by defeating United Arab Emirates in finals.
In 2010, these hero’s won 2010 ICC World Cup T20 Qualifier by defeating Ireland in finals.
The team took part in 2010 Asian Games and won Silver Medal. They also won two ODI’s in World Cricket League Championship.
In June 2013, Afghanistan got its first associate membership of ICC on the nomination request of Asian cricket council. They became the first team to get this membership in such a short time.
Afghanistan national cricket team toured to Zimbabwe in 2015, to play its first series against full member. By defeating Zimbabwe, team reached the top 10 of ICC ODI ranking for the first time.
The team won its first world cup match against Scotland in 2015. But got out of tournament in opening round.
They qualified for the WORLD CUP 2019 in England. They lost three group matches but they managed to win the tournament held in Zimbabwe by beating West Indies. Mohammad Shahzad of Afghanistan was named player of the match.
They made their country proud. They did not reach here like anything, but they burned out themselves to hit a home run. Today, who used to call their game useless, are calling them hero’s, who made name of third County in whole world.