Afghanistan players celebrate after their victory over hosts ZImbabwe © Getty Images (File Picture)
Afghanistan players celebrate after their victory over hosts ZImbabwe © Getty Images

 

After being 0-2 down in the four-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, Afghanistan came back strongly to win the remaining two matches and level the series. Sudatta Mukherjee looks at the performance of a team for whom cricket is not just a sport but it is an equipment of bringing normalcy back in a war-torn nation.

 

In the first One-Day International (ODI), Zimbabwe had crushed Afghanistan by six wickets with 28 balls remaining. In the second, they beat the Afghans by eight wickets with 39 balls remaining. One would have thought that Zimbabwe would have easily gone on to win the series. However, a country of humans, who have learnt to live life with pain and fight till the end, Afghanistan never, suspected that they cannot do the unthinkable.

 

They came back strong in the third ODI and won the match by two wickets and with two balls remaining. On Thursday they eradicated the pain of the loss of first two matches, by defeating Zimbabwe in style. Well supported by the bowlers, Afghanistan literally crushed Zimbabwe by 100 runs and thus leveled the series. It has been a long journey since they made their debut in the international arena. Sympathy does not take a team much further and no sportsperson would like to win the love and support of their fans by pity or sympathy.

 

Since Afghanishtan were given the ODI status and had qualified for the T20 World Cup and World Cup 2015, they have come a long way. They fought hard against India in the World T20 2012, but lost. They were crushed in the next group match by England and crashed out of the tournament. In Asia Cup 2014, they came and won against Bangladesh but that didn’t help them much. They lost all the other matches and again failed to progress. They failed miserably in 2014 World T20, where they were defeated by Bangladesh and Nepal.

 

On a nutshell, Afghanistan’s performances in the big league have been topsy-turvy. Even though they have garnered the support of fans across the globe, they haven’t been able to do much on field. The win against Zimbabwe on Thursday would do a lot to soothe their morale and will inject a lot of confidence in the coming days ahead, in the months ahead to the lead up to their first ever 50-over World Cup. It is not that they do not have cricketers who could not only guide the team ahead but the nation with it. They have some fine quality cricketers in the form of Samiullah Shenwari, Nasir Jamal, Shafiqullah, Dawlat Zadran, Usman Ghani and skipper Mohammad Nabi.

 

For the fans all over the world, they should not forget to shower their support and remember only during big tournaments. If Afghanistan have to move ahead as a nation, then they need a motivation like their cricket team to ignite their hope and believe from time to time and the team will need the fans behind them, throughout the journey, through dust and darkness.

 

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)