It has been a truly spectacular for Afghanistan Cricket, filled with memorable T20 and ODI wins and concluding with the granting of test status. Though they have been rising steadily since 2010 on the international stage, 2017 was by far the biggest and most substantial year for Afghanistan Cricket Team. Let’s have a look back at what shaped up the last year so beautifully for them.
Well begun is half Done
Afghanistan began the year with 5 wins on the trot to take the inaugural Desert T20 Challenge trophy home where they shot Ireland out for a paltry 71 in the final.
Moving on, a 3-2 series win away from home over Zimbabwe in February was followed by a string of victories in March over Ireland: 3-0 in the T20Is, which extended Afghanistan’s world-record streak of T20I wins to 11.
On their maiden bilateral tour to the Caribbean, Afghanistan stunned the world with a famous 63-run win over the hosts in the first ODI in Gros Islet.
Becoming a Test Playing nation
The dream of Full Membership and Test cricket spontaneously turned real in June 2017, when Afghanistan’s application was accepted together with that of Ireland at the ICC annual conference in London to become the 11th and 12th Test nations. It was undoubtedly the biggest achievement for both the nations, considering the fact that it had been 17 years since an Associate had been elevated to Full Membership.
The ones amongst the Headlines
2017 will most certainly be remembered as the year of Rashid Khan. He was the team’s leading wicket-taker in the Desert T20 Challenge, with 9 wickets in just 5 matches; followed by 10 in 5 ODIs against Zimbabwe and was the best bowler from either side in both the T20I and ODI series wins against Ireland, picking up 25 wickets across 8 matches, including a freak 5 for 3 in the space of 9 balls to reverse fortunes in an eventual 17-run D-L win in the second T20I.
The teenager, however, produced his best performance for a monumental night against the Windies where he destroyed them with a record 7 for 18, the fourth-best ODI haul of all time only behind greats like Chaminda Vaas, Shahid Afridi, and Glenn McGrath.
Mohammad Nabi became the first Afghanistan player taken by an IPL team when he received a bid of Rs 30 lakhs (US$ 46,000) from Sunrisers Hyderabad. The enthusiasm went up dramatically during the bidding war between Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers for Rashid Khan. When Mumbai eventually backed out, Rashid’s reputation as a flourishing international superstar was affirmed by Sunrisers’ bid of Rs 4 crore (US$595,000 ).
A few weeks later, they ended up becoming the first set of Afghan players to feature in the Caribbean Premier League, when Nabi was acquired by St Kitts and Nevis Patriots for $ 90, 000 and Khan by Guyana Amazon Warriors for $60,000.
At this time of the year, both men are playing in the KFC Big Bash League as well.
Looking forward to 2018
The stakes are higher than ever for a spot at the 2019 World Cup due to fewer berths, but if Afghanistan can scrape through the qualifying round against West Indies, Zimbabwe, and Ireland, teams they have dominated in the recent past, the players will be worth their weight in Gold.
All eyes will be on Afghanistan’s inaugural Test against India which is supposed to be a landmark occasion for the Afghanistan Cricket Board and fans.