There are very few teams that have progressed as rapidly as Afghanistan and as a result, they have been left behind by Afghanistan’s vivacious talents. Not being able to play cricket at home is something no cricket team desires, but Afghanistan is left with no other choice.
The comforting part was that other nations came forward and helped them out, one of them being India, who have provided the Afghans with a home ground in Greater Noida at Delhi where they are currently locking horns with Ireland in a T20I and ODI series. They have rapidly progressed in their approach towards the game, aided by the likes of Kabir Khan and Inzamam-ul-Haq.
However, they are yet to be blessed with Test status, which is what every cricketing nation aspires for. We take a look at the reasons why it’s justified to grant Test status to Afghanistan.
#5 Rapid strides since their inception
Ever since their coronation on the world stage, Afghanistan’s story turned for the better with each passing day, helped by the team’s resilient grit and timeless support from the fans. In no time, they have become a force to reckon with in the limited overs format.
Afghanistan bagged the Affiliate status in 2001 and there was no stopping the vibrant bunch of cricketers since then. 2008 witnessed them gain the Associate status and it didn’t take long for them to stamp their authority in associate cricket where they beat the likes of Ireland and Scotland without much trouble.
Let alone associate teams, they have got the better of full member nations, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, pretty frequently. Their biggest win came in the 2016 World T20 when they humbled the holders, West Indies.
#4 Bowling and batting have been revelations
The credit for their surge to supremacy must go to their stupendous batsmen and also to the bowling, which has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Inexperience sometimes led to their bowlers being carted around and their batsmen bamboozled by the big boys of cricket, but it was hardly a deterrent for a side keen on leaving their mark on the international stage.
While the likes of Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi showcased their batting prowess in big games, their bowlers, Rashid Khan and Dawlat Zadran, have struck crucial blows for their team at crunch moments.
Rashid Khan’s fastest five-wicket haul – in 12 balls against Ireland – has taken the cricketing world by storm. Mohammad Shahzad, the swashbuckling wicketkeeper who has been unflinching in his approach, became the first Afghan to bag the ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year award in 2016.
The feather in Afghanistan’s cap, meanwhile, is Nabi and Rashid’s selection in the IPL.
#3 The lion in associate cricket’s jungle
Over the years, Afghanistan have become an invincible force in associate cricket. Nations like Scotland and Ireland have been plying their trade in associate cricket for quite some time and the Afghan boys rolled them over with disdain.
In almost all the major ICC events, they have managed to qualify without much fuss. Even during the major events, they fared much better than their associate counterparts.
Two years ago in 2015, Afghanistan registered their maiden win in World Cups when they upset Scotland by one wicket in a group game.
Here’s a statistical insight into the performance of Afghanistan against other associate members.
#2 Success in overseas conditions
For being a nation struck down by war, Afghanistan do not host international games, which’s unfortunate, to say the least. Though domestic matches are being hosted by the nation, international fixtures are still some distance away for the Asian country.
However, it turned to be a blessing in disguise for the players as they were presented with the golden opportunity of performing away from home in alien conditions, and they haven’t disappointed one bit. Aside from putting on superlative shows, the team has gained crowd support due to the aggressive intent they approach their cricket with.
They have a new home ground in Greater Noida at New Delhi, where they recently whitewashed Ireland 3-0 in the T20 series.
#1 Test Cricket may be just what they require
Afghanistan have struck the right chords in the past few months, going through a rich vein of form in the 20-over and the 50-over formats. Recently, they registered ten consecutive wins in T20 internationals, edging past Ireland and England who won eight matches each.
Now that Afghanistan are settled and adjusted to the flexibilities of the sport, the time has come to test out their players in the longest and most demanding format of the game. The results might not show immediately, but it will allow the players to add to their skill and improve their temperament.
Test cricket might just open up a completely new dimension for Afghanistan cricket, which will be the icing on the cake for the nation.