Afghanistan Cricket: The Inspirational Journey

The Rise of Afghanistan Cricket: From Division Five To The Semifinal Of The ICC T20 World Cup 2024

It’s a historic moment for the Afghanistan cricket team and their fans as they have reached the semifinals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. They did that after beating Bangladesh by 8 runs in the last Super 8 game of the tournament. Afghanistan cricket has been rising rapidly over the years and played outstanding cricket in the last few years or so. No team nowadays took them lightly and they have made this reputation by doing wonders in this short time.

The rise of Afghanistan cricket is quite remarkable, emotional, and inspirational at the same time. From playing Division 5 cricket to getting a test status to reaching the semifinals of the T20 World Cup 2024, Afghanistan cricket has come a long way. Today, we will go deep into this and see the whole journey of Afghanistan cricket. We will also see some history of this cricketing nation and how it all started. So let’s dive into it quickly.

The First Impression – How Did Afghans Know About Cricket?

Cricket was introduced to Afghanistan by Afghan refugees who had fled to Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s and 1990s. While living in refugee camps in Pakistan, these Afghans were exposed to cricket, which is a popular sport there. They learned and played the game, and upon returning to Afghanistan, they brought their newfound passion and knowledge of cricket with them. This grassroots movement eventually led to the formation of local cricket teams and clubs, and the sport’s popularity grew steadily across the country.

In Afghan refugee camps just outside of Peshawar, cricket was played with considerable regularity, which was not surprising given the popularity of the game in Pakistan. When Afghans started to make their way back home in the early 2000s, they took cricket with them.

Formation Of A Cricket Board And A National Team

In 1995, a cricket board was formed with the national cricket team came into existence in 2001. Also, in 2001, the ICC (International Cricket Council) granted Affiliate status to the Afghanistan Cricket Federation (now known as Afghanistan Cricket Board).

In the 2001–02 season, Afghanistan fielded a cricket side in Pakistan’s domestic league for the first time, competing in the Quaid–e–Azam Trophy’s second division, where they lost three of their five matches while drawing two.

Afghanistan Becomes An Associate Member Of The ACC

Afghanistan Cricket became an associate member of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in 2003. They played in the 2006 Asian Cricket Council Trophy and did well to reach the semifinals of the tournament. This performance was an eye-opener for them and made them believe that they can win games at the professional level. It also ignites an excitement level in the fans of Afghanistan cricket.

Joint Winners In The ACC Twenty20 Cup In 2007

Afghanistan became joint winners of the inaugural ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007 after the final against Oman ended in a tie. They achieved that feat in the leadership of former Afghanistani cricketer, Nawroz Mangal.

Till that time, the Afghanistan cricket team has started playing Division Cricket. In the same year, Afghanistan defeated Jersey in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division Five.

Dominating Performance In Division Four Of The ICC World Cricket League

Afghanistan remains unbeaten in the ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Tanzania in 2008. Then, they won the ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Argentina in 2009.

Rewarded For Their Outstanding Performances In The ICC World Cricket League

After the Afghanistan cricket team’s outstanding performances in Division cricket, they were allowed to take part in the ICC WC 2011 qualifiers. The tournament happened in South Africa in 2009. They did well to reach the Super 8 stage but failed to make it to the ICC WC 2011.

Afghanistan Got ODI Status In 2009

Although they didn’t make it to the WC in 2011, their performances helped them to gain One-Day International (ODI) status in April 2009. It was a great achievement as they only started playing 8 years ago. Their performances allowed them to get ODI status that quickly as compared to some other teams.

Qualified For The T20 WC 2010

Afghanistan defeated Ireland in the final of ICC T20 World Cup 2010 Qualifiers, to secure their place in the T20 WC 2010. It was their first-ever WT20. They got eliminated from the tournament after losing two back-to-back games against India and South Africa. But it wasn’t about winning, it was more than that. Playing on a big stage like the ICC T20 WC is an achievement in itself.

Afghan won the Intercontinental Cup in Dubai in the same year. They defeated Scotland in the final of the tournament and won the title in their first attempt.

Along with these achievements, the Afghanistan cricket team has been doing well in Division cricket as well. They finished at the 3rd Place in the ICC World Cricket League Division One and were the runners-up in the ICC World Cricket League Championship (earlier runs with the name of ICC World Cricket League) 2011-13.

First-Ever Clash Against A Full-Member Nation In An ODI

In 2012, they played their first-ever ODI game against an ICC full-member nation. They played an ODI against Pakistan in Sharjah on February 10. Although they lost that game by 7 wickets, it was a historic moment for them. In the same year, Afghanistan also hosted another big team Australia in a one-off ODI in Sharjah.

In 2013, the Afghanistan cricket team became an Associate member of the ICC.

Afghanistan Played Their First-Ever ODI World Cup In 2015

In 2015, they played their first-ever ODI WC in Australia and New Zealand. After finishing 2nd in the ICC World Cricket League Championship in 2013, they qualified to play in the ICC ODI WC 2015. They lost 5 games in the Group Stage but created history by registering their first-ever WC win against Scotland by just one wicket.

 Cricket fans all around the world have started to see glimpses of bigger things to come from Afghanistan cricket. They won a T20I against the world champions West Indies in the ICC T20 WC 2016 Group Stage.

Becoming A Full-Member Nation In 2017

Afghanistan cricket has been given a test status in 2017, along with Ireland. It was the moment that showed big things are not far in Afghanistan cricket. In 2018, they played their first-ever test match against India in Bengaluru. They lost that game by an inning and 262 runs inside two days. But it wasn’t about winning, rather about playing their first-ever test match and enjoying the moment.

Afghanistan won their first-ever test match against Ireland by 7 wickets in 2019.

In the same year, they played the ODI WC in 2019. But it was a disappointing campaign for them as they lost all 9 games in the tournament.

Afghanistan’s Best ODI World Cup In 2023

Till the time an ICC ODI WC 2023 came, Afghanistan had established itself as a fierce competitor in world cricket. They were giving a hard time to full-member nations like India, Australia, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, etc. They have won a few games and series’ against some of these teams.

Afghanistan showed why other teams can’t take them lightly nowadays. They won 4 games in the ICC ODI World Cup 2023, including wins against big teams like England, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. They also beat the Netherlands and finished at No. 6 in the points table.

They almost pulled off a win against WC 2023 winners Australia in a Round-Robin stage, but Maxwell’s extraordinary double-hundred snatched a victory from Afghanistan.

A Historic Moment In Afghanistan Cricket As They Reached The Semifinal Of T20 World Cup 2024

Till now, everyone has seen what Afghanistan can do. And they proved their mettle in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024. They first defeated NZ, Uganda, and PNG to reach the Super 8. Then, they won against Australia and Bangladesh to reach the semifinal of the tournament.

It was a tense situation against Bangladesh with all to play for Afghanistan. The rain interruptions were also hindering their momentum. But they kept their nerves in control in this pressure situation and won the game by 8 runs.

It was a very emotional moment for the team and their fans as it will be the first time that the Afghanistan cricket team will play in the semifinal of any big ICC tournament. They will take on South Africa on June 27 in Trinidad.

The Rise Of Afghanistan Cricket And The Impact Of The Taliban

Afghanistan as a cricket nation has grown a lot over the years. All these achievements and wins are prime examples of that. Most of the established Afghan cricketers have faced a ruling of the Taliban government and difficulties regarding that.

When the Taliban took over Afghanistan, they didn’t allow Afghanistan’s Women’s cricket team to feature on the world stage. Men’s team also faced difficulties regarding poor cricket infrastructure and lack of grounds. But still, they found a way to excel in these situations and are now competing with other big nations. Their U-19 team has also done well in the recent past.

Support From Other Cricket Boards

Time to time, other cricketing boards like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and UAE helped Afghanistan to allow some venues to be used as their home ground. In the beginning, Pakistan helped Afghanistan to train there and SL’s Dambulla venue has also been used by Afghans as their home venue.

For a good amount of time, UAE’s Sharjah was the home ground for Afghans. BCCI has also signed a memorandum with ACB to use venues like Lucknow, Dehradun, and Greater Noida to train and host games.

What’s Ahead For Afghanistan Cricket?

The way Afghanistan has been playing right now, they will only get better and better. A new crop of players in the country will be inspired to see players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, etc, and want to be like that. They have their super-heroes to follow in cricket, rather than looking for inspiration outside the country.

What’s your favorite moment in Afghanistan cricket? Thank you for reading. Keep following us for the latest updates.

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(1) Which batter has scored the most runs for Afghanistan in T20Is?

Mohammad Nabi has scored the most runs (2165) for Afghanistan in T20Is.

(2) How many T20 WCs Afghanistan cricket team has played so far?

Afghanistan is currently playing its 7th ICC T20 WC in 2024.

(3) Which bowler has taken the most wickets for Afghanistan in ODIs?

With 183 wickets, Rashid Khan is Afghanistan’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs.

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