Afghanistan is a country with lush green vegetation, lip smacking food and ofcourse the terrorist ties. But since 24th October, Afghanistan will be known for something else too; for a resilient performance put up by its cricket team to record the 1st bilateral victory of an associate nation over a full member team.
Afghanistan’s tour of Zimbabwe consisted of a 5 match ODI series and a 2 match T20 series starting on 16th October 2015. It all began with an easy victory of the hosts in the 1st match which was a result in accordance with people’s expectations. But in the 2nd ODI, the visitors put up a terrific display of an all round performance and left the hosts to bite the dust.
This trend continued for the next two matches, Zimbabwe winning the next match to lead the series and then Afghanistan coming around in the 4th encounter to level it all again. Then finally came the 5th ODI the decider which was played at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on 24th October. And beyond everyone’s expectations the Afgani’s ruled against the hosts. Afghanistan batted first putting up a score of 245 runs thanks to the 97 run stand between Noor Ali Zadran (54) and Mohammad Nabi (53).
Though a gettable score, the Zimbabwe batting order was ripped to shreds by the Afghani bowling attack with Zadran and Hamza taking 4 and 3 wickets respectively. At a point Zimbabwe stood at 15-3 and and Sean Williams alone tried to steer the sinking ship and put up a stand of 102 runs. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 172 runs and Afghanistan recorded a massive historical 73 runs victory over a full ICC member. And the team didn’t just stop there, the next stop was T20.
The Afghanistan team entered the 1st T20 match high on a historical victory but not blinded by it. In a clinical performance they easily achieved the target of 154 runs set by the opponents. The visitors played phenomenal cricket all round the series with the batsmen and bowlers both rising up to the occasion and taking the game home for their team.
This is not the 1st time that Afghanistan has displayed quality cricket. It was the major upset caused by them in the Asia Cup against Bangladesh that earned them the place in the ICC rankings. Currently Afghanistan stand at No.9 in the T20 rankings between England and Bangladesh and at No. 12 in the ODI rankings.
This is a team that has qualified for major ICC T20 tournaments in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Afghanistan also recorded a thumping win over Scotland in the 2015 World Cup. It’s a team that plays the sport with a lot of heart and a great sporting spirit, the proof of which lies in Zadran’s gesture when he shared his MoM award with Sean Williams for his fight against them in the 5th ODI.
With Inzamam ul Haq as their interim coach this team has done wonders and as they are set to play the 2nd T20 tomorrow you can expect another thrilling performance.