Afghanistan: A Cricketing Underdog or the Contenders?
Afghanistan: A Cricketing Underdog or the Contenders : In 2015, the Afghanistan Cricket team for the first time qualified for the ICC World Cup tournament. Since then the country has been steadily rising in the world of cricket. The country that has been torn apart by terrorism and conflicts, found a “Ray of Hope.” However, having said so, one must not count the Afghan Cricket based on the emotions and feelings, the young Afghan team have earned the right to be taken seriously. After a miraculous campaign in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers and defeating the West Indies in the finals, the Afghan team emerged as a bona fide competitor on cricket’s biggest stage.
Afghanistan qualified as the 10th Best ODI team in the tournament. On Friday, the Afghan team stunned the world by beating Pakistan in their first warm up match. The country which hardly had a pitch two decades back, enter the Cricketing battle field with a message that they are here as a contender not just an underdog.
Afghanistan after 2015 World Cup
In 2011 Cricket World Cup Qualifying tournament, the Afghan team failed to qualify but it earned the ODI status for next four years. Since then the team never looked back despite some ups and down. In 2015 World Cup, the team won its first World Cup match against Scotland. However, they lost the remaining matches and were knocked out of the tournament.
Post World Cup
Post world cup, the Afghanistan team made their first tour to Zimbabwe where the team clinched a historic one-day international series. The team became the first non-test playing nation to win to a multi-game bilateral ODI tournament against a test playing nation. In 2017, ICC awarded first class status to Afghanistan’s four-day domestic competition.
Asia Cup of 2018 proved to be the biggest tournament for the Afghan Cricket Team. The tournament was evident of bright future of Afghanistan in cricketing world. The team led by Asghar Afghan almost ruined the party for the Asian giants. Beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in group stage, the team finished at the top of the group. However, lack of experience could not help them move ahead Super 4s. It must be noted that, the losses at the hands of Bangladesh and Pakistan in Super 4s was not one-sided. The young Afghan team fought bravely and ended the match to close finishes. The Afghan team rightly proved that they were no more underdogs and none should take them for granted.
Afghanistan World Cup 2019 Squad
Lead by Captain Gulbadin Naib, Afghan team for World Cup 2019 are Rashid Khan (vice captain), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, and Mujeeb ur Rahman.
Afghanistan progress mainly depends on Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Recently the Afghanistan Cricket Board took a controversial step; it changed its long-term captain, Asghar Afghan, and replaced him by Gulbadin Naib.
Strength and Weakness
Afghanistan Cricket Team’s true strength is bowling. The team has world class all-rounders like Rashid Khan, Muhammad Nabi and Muji ur Rahman. It must be noted that, Rashid Khan is world number one all-rounder. Their spin bowling attack is right up there with the very best in the tournament led by the superstar Rashid Khan himself.
Batting has been a real weakness of Afghanistan team. Though most of the batsman can score quick runs, but there is little glue to hold it together. In field of bowling, lack of effectiveness of the pace bowlers hurts the team. The pacers have been forever expensive and none have had a good experience to rub their shoulders with international players.
At the dawn of 21st century, the future of Afghanistan was in total turmoil. Afghanistan playing an international cricket was nothing less than dream. None might have imagined that the team which is composed of players mostly born in refugee camps were going to qualify for the ICC World Cup. However, as nothing is permanent and there is always a light at the end of tunnel, Afghanistan stood above all the odds and are now part of ICC World Cup, not as an underdogs but as a contenders. How this team will perform in the World Cup will be decided as the tournament progresses but as of now Afghanistan is here to make a difference rather than to be bullied by big guns of International cricket.
Title: Afghanistan: A Cricketing Underdog or the Contenders