By Almas Akhtar, TMO
A War Torn Country and a Sports Team that Redefines a Nation
An Afghan boy throws a cricket ball on a frozen lake in Kabul February 2, 2012.
The game of Cricket was introduced in Afghanistan in the 19th century by the British troops but it was 1995 when the Afghan Cricket Federation was founded. The game of Cricket became popular among the Afghan refugees living in Pakistan during the Soviet Invasion. The refugees learned this game from the local Pakistanis who have been playing it for a long time and who were crowned the World Champions in 1992.It was in 2001 that the Afghan Cricket Federation was elected as an official member of ICC. The game is played all over the country from small grounds to fields to sidewalks. It is played in all the provinces and two new Cricket Stadiums are being built in Kabul and Kandahar but due to security issues theâ€ home gamesâ€ are played in Sri Lanka or UAE. The game of Cricket has become very popular in Afghanistan in the last ten years, it has provided a great pass time for the youngsters who have been raised in the background of two wars in the last 30 years. The Afghan Cricket Team is ranked 9th in the International â€œTwenty 20â€as of Dec 2011 ahead of full ICC member Zimbabwe and the unranked Bangladesh. The Afghan Cricket team failed to qualify for the 2011 Cricket World cup but did earn One Day International Status till 2013.The biggest achievement of the Afghan team till now is their 7 wicket victory against the team from Scotland in 2010 Intercontinental Cup. The Afghan Cricket team also played a One Day International Cricket match against Pakistan in UAE in Feb 2012.
The Afghan Cricket Team is led by Nawrouz Mengal who once was a refugee in the Northern Area of Pakistan, he learned Cricket during those days .He caught the eye of the coach of the Afghan National Cricket Team in 2001. Some other talented players in the Afghan Cricket team are Hamid Hassan Shapoor Zardan and Noor Ali. A documentary film by the name of â€œOut of the Ashesâ€ was made in 2010 on the rise of Afghan cricket Team on the World Cricket Horizon.
Success of the Afghan Cricket Team in last 10 years, transformed their players into Super Stars within the country. It is said that this sport and the men playing it will redefine their nation. After more than 30 years of war the Afghani people will get a chance to defeat other countries and Cricket teams on the â€œCricket Pitch.â€