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In War and Peace, passion for cricket alive and well in Afghanistan

Khushal has been fighting for the Taliban since the age of 13, but now that he has won the war against the former government, he has more time to play cricket and support the Afghan national team as they prepare for their T20I on Monday. Starting the World Cup campaign.

Khushal, 18, told Reuters at the Chaman-e-Huzoori Public Ground, “We were fighting for Islam and the Quran, but still we focused on cricket as well.” Friday is a public holiday in Afghanistan.

Men caught in a dust storm while playing cricket in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 22, 2021. The picture was taken on October 22, 2021. Reuters/Zohra Bensemara

“By the grace of Allah, victory has come,” he said, now that he can enjoy the game he loves so much in peace. While the Taliban frowned on many forms of public entertainment, cricket has always been an exception, a sport fighters followed closely even during the war whenever the Afghan national team was playing.

The team has given reasons for optimism to many in the country.

spin bowler Rashid Khan or big hit batsman Mohammad Nabiq Have become the major stars of the Indian Premier League (IPL), a showcase of the dynamic younger form of the game.

The team begins its campaign with a match against Scotland before taking on their bigger neighbors Pakistan on Friday. I really love cricket… I can’t tell you,” says Khushal, unable to hide his passion for the game, even while speaking about the Taliban victory.

Khobiab, 7, of Kandahar province, and who is learning to play cricket pose for a photo at a playground in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 22, 2021. The picture was taken on October 22, 2021. Reuters/Zohra Bensemara

The optimism contrasts with the generally grim outlook for the country, which as a harsh economic crisis approaches. But he is not the only one looking forward to the Afghanistan national team’s World Cup campaign.

The match we are eagerly waiting for is Pakistan against Afghanistan,” said 24-year-old Farmanullah Shinwari, from the eastern province of Nangarhar on the border with Pakistan.

“We want Pakistan to lose.” The huge cricket ground in the center of Kabul, near the offices of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, is dilapidated.


But neither that nor the strong winds have stopped the weekly matches, which have continued during the turmoil since the Taliban victory in August.

Nurullah, who traveled from Lagman province outside Kabul to Chaman-e-Huzuri ground, says he predicts a better performance from the Afghan national team in 2021 than in the last T20 World Cup in 2016, when he reached the knockout rounds. failed to reach, finished ninth.” He predicted, by the will of Allah, they would reach the semi-finals or final.

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