Rashid Khan (left) and Mohammad Nabi's IPL outings have inspired several Afghan youngsters    AFP
Rashid Khan (left) and Mohammad Nabi’s IPL outings have inspired several Afghan youngsters AFP

By Shyam Sundar

Chennai: Everything about Afghanistan is fascinating. It seems every aspect associated with their lives have a story attached to it and sports is no exception. The story of a country ravaged by war getting Test status has sent cricket fans across the globe into raptures. It is a matter of time when Rashid Khan will be seen in white flannels bamboozling in the batsmen with his sharp googlies. The Test status is also an assurance for the Gen-Next of Afghan cricket that they have a future if they can do well. ALSO READ: War-hit Afghanistan ecstatic over cricket Test status

With dreams in their eyes and determination to succeed, the U-19 national team of Afghanistan has touched base in Chennai for a preparatory camp for U-19 World Cup qualifiers. The boys are eager to follow the footsteps of their heroes Rashid and Mohammed Nabi, said under-19 coach Dawlat Ahmedzai.

“Cricket has come a long way in the country in the past few years. The success had come after a lot of hard work and sacrifices. Also IPL has played a big role with Rashid Khan’s performance for Sunrisers Hyderabad has helped in taking the craze to another level. Rashid and Nabi playing IPL is the best thing that could have happened for us,” Ahmedzai told PTI during an interaction today.

Ahmedzai thanked for support from the current government and also the general public, a big departure from the earlier troubled times.

Just like South Africa played it’s first international post apartheid against India (back in 1991), Ahmedzai won’t mind if they make their debut against India but Zimbabwe is a more likely opponent as of now, he said.

He feels that they have to build up on their impressive performances in T20s and ODIs. “We have played in the T20 World Cup and 50 overs World Cup in 2015 but this (becoming a Test nation) is bigger and has come at probably the right time. We need to build on this,” he added.

“We have a good domestic structure and now that we have got Test status, there is big scope for improvement in infrastructural quality. We have eight stadiums and multiple academies in our country.”

Among the next batch of crickters, the coach picked Zahir Khan, Ibrahim and Imran Mohammeidi among ones to watch out for.

Teeangers Mohammeidi and Parwiz Malikzai couldn’t hide their excitement.

“It is a massive boost for our country. Cricket is the number one sport in Afghanistan and this a big step forward,” Malikzai said. Malikzai however is not happy how international media portrays Afghanistan as a “war torn nation”.

“Cities like Kabul are as safe as any other,” said the left-handed all-rounder, who is a fan of Indian player Yuvraj Singh said.

Mohammeidi felt that Rashid is an inspiration for countless youngsters to take up cricket.

“Test status is a huge motivation for the entire country. It will chart a new path for Afghan cricket,” Malikzai and Mohammeidi signed off.