Explainer: How did the craze for cricket grow so much in Afghanistan, how do players come out from there

Orhan Wadia
Orhan Wadia - Editor
6 Min Read
Explainer: How did the craze for cricket grow so much in Afghanistan, how do players come out from there

Cricket craze in Afghanistan: The ICC T20 World Cup being played under the joint hosting of West Indies and America has proved to be historic for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has shown its strength to the cricket world by making it to the semi-finals for the first time. The Afghan team first defeated a giant team like Australia in the Super-8 round and then defeated Bangladesh to make it to the final four teams with pride. Both these teams are much higher than it in the rankings. Afghanistan's success is important in the sense that the Taliban took power in this country three years ago. Since then the country's economy has collapsed badly. The situation has gone from bad to worse for the common citizens there. In such a situation, the whole country is very happy with the success of the team.

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Taliban first imposed ban, then removed it
There was a time when the Taliban had banned all sports in Afghanistan. Anyone who was seen playing was shot. But in the year 2000, the Taliban lifted the ban on cricket. The Taliban found this game very entertaining. Since then, whenever the Afghanistan cricket team played a big match or tournament, the Taliban was at the forefront in wishing them good luck. The craze for cricket increased to such an extent that cricket matches were most watched in the areas controlled by the Taliban. Those who could not watch the match on TV used to listen to the commentary on the radio. Interestingly, most of the players playing in the national team come from these areas.

Learned cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan
There are many cricketers in the Afghanistan team who lived in refugee camps in Pakistan with their parents and family during the civil war in the country. They were very young then. When they saw Pakistanis playing cricket, their interest in this game increased. Later they themselves started playing cricket. In the 19th century, when the British army came to occupy this country, the people of Afghanistan also got addicted to cricket, but gradually this addiction ended. They got the real addiction to this game in the refugee camps of Pakistan.

Even the Talibanis started enjoying cricket
A man named Taj Malook Khan formed an Afghan cricket club outside the Kachcha Gari refugee camp in Peshawar in the 80s. A decade later, when Afghan citizens started returning to their country, they brought cricket with them. Initially, the Taliban had banned all sports. They believed that sports distract a person from prayer. Later, the Taliban's attitude towards cricket softened. Then there came a time when Taliban fighters put their AK-47 guns aside for cricket. When Afghanistan qualified for the 2019 World Cup, they shook the entire country with bullets. This was the Taliban's own way of expressing happiness over victory in cricket.

Impact of cricket in rural areas
According to a report, cricket is the only sport that even Taliban commanders are fond of. Huge crowds gather to watch cricket matches in the areas under their control. The amazing thing is that there is no fighting during this. All of them are fans of their country's team and encourage it wholeheartedly.

Cricket academies started opening
Ever since the craze of cricket has increased in Afghanistan, cricket academies have started opening everywhere. Children are seen playing cricket in villages and cities. However, due to the current situation in Afghanistan, foreign teams do not go to play there. In such a situation, the Afghanistan team made Greater Noida in India its base. After that its home ground shifted to Dehradun and finally to Dubai. The reason behind Afghanistan's success is the Indian Cricket Control Board providing grounds and training infrastructure in Greater Noida and Dehradun for the neighboring country. They play matches with foreign teams that do not want to come to Afghanistan at a neutral venue. It has also played some matches with foreign teams in India.

Victory was celebrated in India too
Afghan refugees and students living in India miss their country the most on two occasions – one when their mother makes biryani on Eid and the other when their favorite bowler Rashid Khan uproots the stumps. A large number of Afghan students study at Sharda University in Greater Noida. Obviously, they are thrilled by the success of the Afghan team. Now they are excited about the semi-final match. After the victory over big teams in the Super-8, there was a festive atmosphere in the homes of many Afghan refugees in Bhogal and Lajpat Nagar in Delhi. Even those who are not interested in cricket are ready to watch the semi-final match and shout slogans for their country.

tag: afghanistan cricket, afghanistan taliban news, Cricket World Cup, ICC T20 World Cup, Taliban Afghanistan

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