The burgeoning rise of Afghanistan cricket

Tahir Ibn Manzoor / 13 February 2018
Afghanistan, Asghar Stankzai, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi

Imagine this intriguing plot. You are an Afghanistan cricketer and landed into a lucrative deal as successful as the Indian Premier League (IPL). Wouldn’t it make your day? To be honest, it would make your life. Such has been narrative of the current crop of cricketers.

However, there have had been the toughest phase for professionals to witness throughout their careers, but they didn’t lose hope of dreaming big and better.

Afghan players set a massive statement from time-to-time. They change the fortunes in their favour before broad-shouldered youngsters stepped to the gas.

While producing the promising cricketers of late, Afghanistan has witnessed a major surge in the national fold. It has been a remarkable journey for the country itself following the hiccups.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has been playing a massive role – to boost the morale of cricketers at the grassroots level.

Interestingly, one of the premium all-rounders for Afghanistan set-up, Mohammad Nabi did a bulk of the job since 2009.

The 33-year-old right-handed batsman Nabi played a pivotal role in its steep rise while leading Afghanistan from the front.

Nabi is the highest runs scorer in the history of Afghanistan cricket in ODIs with 2,003 runs. He amassed runs at the strike-rate of 28.61.

Interestingly, the wily customer with the white-ball, Nabi bagged most ODI wickets with 91 scalps at an average of 32.35.

In the past, Afghanistan as an associate nation has faced plenty of problems before reaping the rewards.

Afghanistan, Asghar Stankzai, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi
Afghanistan celebrates it in their own way. Photo Credit: Getty Images

More like an interesting fiction, Afghanistan has been on the cusp of changing the scenario where it off started in the early 2000s.

However, recently in October 2017, Afghans became the Full-National member after ICC has approved the Test status to Ireland also in its annual meeting in New Zealand.

Recently after routing Pakistan, in the Youth Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Asia Cup in November 2017, Afghanistan had dictated the terms.

In the recently culminated Under-19 ICC’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand, Afghanistan qualified for the semi-finals following a remarkable show.

On their major breakthrough, Afghanistan made its first-ever entry in 2012 ICC T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

In 2015, Afghanistan following the outstanding efforts made it to the 2015 World Cup final after a short stay in the 2014 T20 World Cup.

Afghanistan, Asghar Stankzai, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi
In the ICC 2016 T20 World Cup, Afghanistan stun Windies. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Surprisingly, in 2016 T20 World Cup, Afghanistan stunned Windies in Nagpur – to see Chris Gayle referred as Universe Boss joining the party.

Before Afghanistan could witness the formation of its Board in 1995, the political turmoil kept haunting the country’s establishments.

With the emergence of misery spinner Mujeeb Zadran, who is just 16, has further given an insight what ACB has on an offer in the domestic circuit.

So far, while having a track of the international fixtures Afghanistan setup has been improving in the contemporary cricket.

On the other side, Afghans played 88 ODIs in which they won 44 and lost 42 as two ended on no result.

Moreover, after playing the first-ever Twenty20 International on February 1, 2010, against Ireland at P Sahara Oval in Colombo, Afghanistan has been fascinating to watch as they went on to win 41 fixtures which saw the losing 22 matches.

Moreover, Afghanistan is all set for the first-ever Test against India at Bengaluru which is slated between June 14 and 18 respectively.

Riveting performers from the Afghanistan camp:

Afghanistan, Asghar Stankzai, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi
Afghan players have set a major example. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Exceptional wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad is the highest individual scorer in ODIs for Afghanistan.

The explosive batsman Shahzad smashed unbeaten 131 against Zimbabwe in 2015 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

However, in Gros Islet – the teenage leg-spinner Rashid Khan steamrolled Windies – to bag his career-best figures of seven for 18 in 2017.

Nangarhar-based Rashid saw him maintaining the second spot in T20Is (47) and third in ODIs (76) as the most wicket-taker in the limited-overs cricket for Windies.

In December 2015, Afghanistan following the brilliant run in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) made the entry in the top ten list of the world cricket governing body ICC in ODI rankings.

The breakthrough came after Afghans won the first ODI against Zimbabwe in the limited-overs fold.

In October 2017, Afghanistan thumped Zimbabwe by 3-2 in the five-match ODI series.

The year 2017 and early 2018 has been a watershed year for Afghanistan colts who played a major role in grabbing the attention of the world cricket.

Talking about the domestic circuit, Afghanistan has not much on an offer but the way Afghanistan players have scaled new height have been a major example to make it to the Test fold.

A brief history of Afghanistan cricket:

Afghanistan, Asghar Stankzai, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi
Nawroz Mangal led Afghanistan in the first-ever international outing. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Rising against the tide, Afghanistan has a riveting cricket history in the gentleman’s game cricket.

The ACB was established in 1995 which further saw it came under the ambit of International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001.

Moreover, Asian Cricket Council (ACC) brought it under its affiliation in 2003.

Earlier, a cricketing journey started off in a war-torn country in the 19th century which further witnessed a booming rise.

Interestingly, Afghanistan played its first ever international match in 2009 against Scotland at Benoni on April 19, 2009.

 In the recent past, we have witnessed the Afghan players making the headlines as an Associate nation.

Interestingly, under the leadership of Nawroz Mangal, the joyous Afghanistan camp registered 89-run in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers.

To finish it on a high, Afghan cricket has a lot on the pathway for the rising stars.

Interestingly, they are capable of scripting the glory in the foreseeable future.

Establishing themselves as the street-smart cricketers, as of now has been leading his side as one of the transcendent figures. He is there to set an example for the untapped talent.

The entry of Afghanistan players in the lucrative professional league like Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL) has revealed the potential Afghan stars have had on an offer.

Afghanistan cricket has been punctuated with occasional victories which further saw the young guns.

With emerging talents breaking into the national team, Afghan cricket has witnessed a significant improvement to fight well in order to leave an impact away from home conditions.