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Afghanistan cricket crew captain Asghar Stanikzai, proper, and teammate Mohammad Shahzad coaching forward of check fit towards India. (AP: Aijaz Rahi)
When Afghanistan takes to the sphere in Bangalore, India, nowadays for its first check fit, way over the result of the sport is at stake for the fledgling cricket crew.
- Cricket first picked up by way of Afghans who fled to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion
- The Taliban banned the sport and extremists have centered fits
- There are hopes the check fit can be a unifying second for the rustic
As can occasionally be the case, the sport of cricket can be a car for one thing a long way more than itself.
For a country riven by way of generations of warfare and battle, gambling check cricket at the world degree is a welcome alternative for Afghanistan to unite at the back of a not unusual purpose.
It’s frequently mentioned that the perception of Afghanistan as a rustic is a international thought imposed arbitrarily upon a selection of tribes that haven’t any perception of nationhood.
Afghanistan will take a way of pleasure, no longer nerves, onto the pitch for his or her maiden check fit. (AP: Aijaz Rahi)
However a country by way of title it’s, and recreation — particularly cricket — is usually a unifying power.
“It is a fairytale for the Afghan crew,” mentioned cricket journalist and historian Boria Majumdar.
“It demonstrates what recreation can do and is able to.
“That this can be a method of lifestyles, can give salve for a stricken country and supply other folks’s life with a brand new which means.
“For the sport, this can be a second of reckoning. It opens up a brand new marketplace and at a time when check cricket is suffering, Afghanistan can no doubt give it a brand new fillip.”
Afghanistan’s debut as a check country can be celebrated by way of cricket lovers across the world, and the ICC will hope it injects new flourish and pleasure into the structure.
Awarded complete member standing along Eire in June closing yr, Afghanistan is from nowadays the arena’s 12th Check-playing country.
Cricket is reasonably new in Afghanistan — it was once picked up by way of refugees who fled to Pakistan throughout the Soviet invasion.
Regardless of being banned by way of the Taliban and condemned by way of spiritual extremists — terrorists bombed a group recreation of cricket in Jalalabad in Might, killing 8 and injuring dozens — a tender technology of cricket stars has emerged from the stricken country.
Rashid Khan, already well-known within the Indian Premier League, can be bowling for his local Afghanistan within the ancient check fit. (AP:Aijaz Rahi)
Nineteen-year-old leg spinner Rashid Khan is already a hero amongst his countrymen, the teenager gambling within the profitable Indian Premier League this yr.
Can the Afghan crew deliver a aggressive recreation?
“I for one be expecting a struggle,” mentioned Majumdar.
“The spinners are world-class and they are going to problem the Indian batsmen.
“The problem is can the Afghan batsmen regulate to the rigours of the five-day recreation? That is what’s going to come to a decision how aggressive they may be able to or can be.”
Former England skipper Kevin Pietersen addressed the crew at a dinner closing week.
“You guys are sitting at the very fringe of historical past,” he mentioned.
“The doom-mongers say this can be a loss of life type of the sport, however you’ve gotten it inside your grab to stay it alive.
“I’ve each religion that at some degree throughout the sport one in every of you are going to raise your bat — or the ball — up prime.
“Now not simply to recognize the applause in your private fulfillment, however extra considerably, to pinpoint that second when all of your laborious paintings, the sacrifices you’ve gotten made and the expectancies of others that you’ve carried to your shoulders have borne fruit.”