Cricket Brings Afghans Together

KABUL: Afghans from around the globe have come together to support their team as the team makes its world Cup debut. Afghanistan is playing in the World Cup for the very first time and qualified for the World Cup 2015 in October 2013 by beating Kenya. It was undeniably a massive accomplishment for a poor, war ravaged and a country much new to the sport of cricket. Afghanistan has achieved surprisingly more in 15 years as compared to most of the  teams have achieved in 50 years. 

Mohammad Nabi, the Afghan skipper “I was not expecting to play in a World Cup when I started playing cricket. But now as we are in the world cup I can enjoy this moment and it is a pleasure playing against the best teams in some of the best playing grounds in Australia and New Zealand “

Today, Afghans are proud because they now have a team good enough to compete in the world class cricket competitions, Afghan flag is now on the show and their national anthem is to be sung in international cricket stadiums.  Afghans have come from different regions to Australia and New Zealand to support their cricket heroes and enjoy few joyful moments supporting their team.

Afghans in Afghanistan are enjoying watching cricket and even in some areas where there is no electricity and TV Signals people managed to contribute and buy generators and satellite dishes. Shopkeepers in the Afghan markets say their sales of televisions, satellite dishes and power generators have increased significantly. The most trending posts in Afghanistan on social media are the pictures of the Afghan cricket players and even some Afghan cricket fans have written on their profile pictures and regularly tweet “ I support Afghanistan in World Cup 2015”

Despite all the issues in Afghanistan the country’s cricket has always offered a pleasant environment to Afghans. Sport can be a really important and successful way of helping traditionally divided communities to focus on peace and reconciliation. It can also be a great tool for building international understanding and friendship.

Afghanistan really gave a very tough time to Sri Lanka in their second world cup match when Sri Lankans was at 51 for four before Jayewardene and skipper Angelo Mathews rectified the innings with a 126 runs partnership as a result Sri Lanka hardly won with 10 balls to spare. It was the first thriller in the Cricket World Cup 2015. It was not only a match between Afghanistan and Sri Lanka but it was a tough competition between a full member and an associate member of International Cricket Council (ICC).

Afghans who put pressure on Sri Lankans with the bat, ball and in the field, with several run-out opportunities, but still Sri Lanka was under pressure all day long. It was indeed quite amazing story of a country who are one of the world’s poorest and have been affected by decades of conflict and reaches the world cup within 15 years and keep Sri Lanka down to 51 for 4 after 12 Overs.

(Mahela Jayawardene, one of the leading batsmen and former captain of the Sri Lankan cricket team, his bat was smashed into two pieces by the pace of Afghan fast bowler Shapoor Zadran)

“Pakistan team should learn from Afghanistan Cricket team “These were the remarks by some Pakistani News Presenters after Pakistanis were failing to bat well and totally ruined in the world cup and Pakistani batsmen are really not performing according to their people’s expectations.

Afghans have been witnessing and seeing decades of atrocities and now the Afghans from different ethnicities and backgrounds sit together under a single roof to watch their heroes playing cricket in the World Cup. Sport is a powerful tool to promote peace, tolerance and understanding, bringing people together across boundaries, cultures and religions. Its intrinsic values such as teamwork, fairness, discipline and respect are understood all over the world and can be utilized in the advancement of solidarity and social cohesion.

Afghanistan played its third match against Scotland in Dunedin and in a thrilling game Afghanistan picked up its first World Cup victory, beating Scotland by one wicket in their Pool A clash in Dunedin.

Scotland and Afghanistan really  battled for their  survival. The two teams have already played each other nine times in ODIs, with Afghanistan holds a 6-3 advantage over Scotland including today’s victory for Afghanistan. Scotland has lost both their matches in the World Cup, to New Zealand by three wickets and England by 119 runs, while Afghanistan lost to Bangladesh by 105 runs and Sri Lanka by four wickets.

Scotland’s team captain just before the match against Afghanistan believed the strong support from locals in Dunedin, a city with Scottish roots, would turn the match into a “home” game for his side. Preston Mommsen also believed that Scotland has an advantage over Afghanistan following their win in the final of the Dubai Triangular.

It was the first time that Scotland passed at a World Cup, setting Afghanistan 211 runs to win after being sent in to bat, but Samiullah Shenwari did a splendid job and scored 96 runs, including few long hit sixes following by the last men Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran, 19 balls to get 19 runs for victory, and Shapoor whipped a four off the third ball of the final over to hand Afghanistan a historic win.

Both Afghanistan and Scotland sides were familiar with one another after meeting in various associate-national competitions, but the clash in Dunedin today was an extra edge. “This is our first win in the World Cup. The boys didn’t bat well. Sami batted brilliantly and took the pressure upon himself. It’s a good learning curve of how to handle the pressure, and it’s good to put 2 points on the board. Everyone will be enjoying this game in Afghanistan, and I hope we can get one more win. The support has been fantastic.” Said Mohammad Nabi, the Afghan Skipper.

Afghans have come out on the roads in different parts of the country and are celebrating their maiden victory in the World Cup, in some cities the roads are blocked and the Afghan National Dance is being performed in many parts of the cities. The victory really has brought cheer to this war-torn country, there are joys and celebration as the news of the victory spread. Thousands of people are dancing and driving with Afghan flags and posters of the Afghan cricketers  through the normally quiet streets.