Al Jazeera talks to Afghanistan’s captain, coach, and ex bowling coach about an unbelievable World Cup marketing campaign.
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Afghanistan want an enormous win over South Africa on Friday to have an opportunity of qualifying for the Cricket World Cup semifinals. However to even be within the working at this stage is exceptional.
Earlier than this event, Afghanistan’s solely 50-over World Cup win got here towards Scotland in 2015.
However in India they’ve crushed former champions England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, in addition to thrashing the Netherlands, and got here agonisingly shut to downing the five-time winners Australia on Tuesday – thwarted solely by Glenn Maxwell’s astonishing 201, which some are hailing because the “best knock” in one-day worldwide historical past.
In an unique interview this week, captain Hashmatullah Shahidi instructed Al Jazeera about how Afghanistan have discovered the self-belief to humble a few of the world’s largest sides, and took concern with the usage of the phrase “upset” getting used for his or her victories.
“I nonetheless don’t consider that we now have prompted any upsets,” he stated.
“An upset is one thing once you win off the final ball, or one thing like that. As a group, we’re ok to beat any opposition; we now have the identical calibre and are on the similar stage as the opposite groups. In the event that they take us flippantly, they’ll certainly style defeat.”
Afghanistan’s wins have given individuals uncommon alternatives for public celebration within the war-torn, Taliban-controlled nation.
The group has an uneasy relationship with the federal government; it nonetheless performs below the inexperienced, black and purple nationwide flag banned by the Taliban, and relies overseas, however Shahidi says the Taliban helps the group.
However politics have hung over their marketing campaign, particularly within the sport towards Australia, whose cricket physique has cancelled bilateral fixtures between the lads’s sides over the Taliban authorities’s insurance policies on ladies.
The Taliban have banned ladies from enjoying sport, ending a nascent drive to develop ladies’s cricket within the nation.
The Worldwide Cricket Council (ICC) says they’re attempting to chart a path between advancing Afghan ladies’s cricket with out penalising the lads’s group. However there are nonetheless no clear targets or timelines in place to reinstate a ladies’s cricket programme.
In the meantime, Umar Gul, a retired Pakistan quick bowler and former Afghanistan bowling coach, says the ICC additionally should put money into home Afghan males’s cricket to construct on the group’s success and guarantee it doesn’t simply fizzle out.
“They don’t have that many services again at house,” Gul instructed Al Jazeera this week.
“They don’t have a correct home construction. Lately they simply began the first-class season however they solely have 4 groups. They should appropriate their home construction and improve the groups in order that they’ve the potential to enhance at worldwide stage.”
Afghanistan’s coach, former England batter Jonathan Trott, instructed Al Jazeera that he didn’t need to touch upon the politics across the sport however stated “it’s our job to be good ambassadors for the sport and for the nation”.
“And our gamers definitely deliver loads of smiles to lots of people in Afghanistan and world wide and, right here in India, the assist for Afghanistan has been wonderful.”