The Afghanistan cricket team has experienced a meteoric rise in the past few years. From becoming an associate member of the ICC in 2013 to becoming a force to be reckoned with now, Afghanistan as a nation has come a long way. The nation, which was once infamous for its political crisis and war-stricken geography, is now seen in a new light as its players promote a different image. Afghanistan has embraced cricket as they continues their rise in the sport.
However, though many ponder how Afghanistan is increasingly getting better in cricket, we trace back how it all started.
ODI status granted
In 2009, Afghanistan progressed into the 2009 World Cup qualifiers to compete for a spot in the 2011 World Cup. However, they failed to progress further. For their efforts, they earned ODI status for four years.
This is where their road to success begins. In the following years, Afghanistan took part in numerous tournaments where they defeated teams like Scotland and Ireland.
Associate Member status granted
Seeing the efforts made by the country to promote cricket, the ICC made Afghanistan an Associate Member of the committee in 2013. This resulted in Afghanistan receiving funding from the ICC to help promote and develop cricket in the nation. Furthermore, the Afghanistan Cricket Board struck a deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to help develop cricket in the country ahead of the 2015 World Cup
The continued financial and technical support by Pakistan and the ICC helped Afghanistan promote cricket and provide greater facilities to its people. Perhaps that is what helped the nation produce one of the best all-rounders in cricket presently.
World Cup debut
Afghanistan Cricket made its World Cup debut in 2015. It was indeed a historic feat for the war-stricken nation, whose players were selected from refugee camps outside the nation. Albeit a fruitless effort, Afghanistan won their first-ever World Cup win by beating Scotland by one wicket.
Following their World Cup debut, Afghanistan saw a rise in interest in cricket as the population bonded over the sport. This saw a rise in players wanting to represent their nation at an international level. Out of the lot, there was one such player who would go on to become the torch-bearer of the present-day Afghanistan cricket team.
Arrival of Rashid Khan in the world stage
One of the best Afghan players to date, Rashid Khan became one of the first two Afghan players to be selected for the Indian T20 League. His arrival soon revealed the plethora of talent that the young Afghan possessed. Rashid Khan quickly became a household name for Team Hyderabad after a successful debut campaign, taking 17 wickets in 14 matches.
Seen as a spinner in his early days, Rashid Khan would soon emerge as an all-rounder, showing his skills with the bat as well. With his exponential rise in cricket along with Mohammed Nabi, the influence of cricket in Afghanistan grew rapidly. His Indian T20 success made him a fan-favourite in India as well as in Afghanistan. His prolificness in franchise cricket is reflected in international cricket as well, as Rashid Khan became the fastest bowler in ODI to scalp 100 wickets.
Khan’s recent Indian T20 League edition, where he was elected vice-captain of the debuting Team Gujarat, saw him play a vital role in their journey to lift the title in their maiden season.
Result of faith and investment
Afghanistan has come a long way since they were made associate members. Their meteoric rise is a result of the investments made in them by their government as well as the ICC and the PCB. Afghanistan is currently playing the 2022 Asia Cup where they beat Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Credit goes to the likes of a young Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who are emerging to be prolific youngsters, much like his senior Rashid Khan.
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