The Taliban regime in Afghanistan had initially banned cricket as they had banned most other sports, but in early 2000, there was a change of heart.
New Delhi: Afghanistan is a strange war-hit and wind-swept country today where great towns and men and women flourished long ago.
Under the Taliban, between 1996 and 2001, music, singing, and other entertainment and sports were banned.
But there are paradoxes too.
The rise of Afghan Cricket coincided with the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001, mainly because many Afghan refugees in neighbouring Pakistan, another cricket-crazy nation, had picked up the sport.
Some were trained in Peshawar cricket fields.
Theirs is not a case of play. The Afghanistan team is ranked 7th in Twenty20 International (T20I) ahead of the likes of Bangladesh and two world champions, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
Taliban leaders have shown a liking for cricket.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board was formed in 1995, and it became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001. Since then, the Afghanistan cricket team has become an integral part of the cricket community worldwide.
Most of the Afghan players are currently participating in the “Hundred” tournament in the United Kingdom.
Players such as Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Mohammad Nabi are worried these days about whether man-made devastation back home would hit their parents and family members.
Rashid is representing Trent Rockets, Mujeeb playing for Northern Superchargers, and Nabi is representing London Spirits. A few Afghan cricketers have also been part of some Indian Premier League (IPL) teams.
The Afghan cricket board CEO Hamid Shinwari says cricket is still 'safe' and would not be a casualty in this season of power transform through guns and bullets.
"Taliban loves cricket...," says Shinwari.
Of course, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had initially banned cricket as they had banned most other sports. But in early 2000, there was a change of heart, and the government wrote to the Pakistan Cricket Board asking for support for an Afghan application to the ICC.
In 2001, the Afghan side took part in a four-match tour of Pakistan, visiting Peshawar and Rawalpindi, and the team also revisited Pak in 2003 and 2004.
In 2004, Afghanistan played in the Asian Cricket Council Trophy in Kuala Lumpur - the regional qualifying competition for the ICC Trophy - and to the surprise of many, even had managed a win over hosts in Malaysia.
On June 14, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated the people of Afghanistan for their cricket team playing the first test match against India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
"Congratulate the people of Afghanistan as their cricket team plays their first international test match. Glad that they have chosen to play the historic match with India. Best wishes to both teams! May sports continue to bring our people closer and strengthen ties," Mr Modi had tweeted.
And the journey continues, as they put it.
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Former diplomats, military experts have expressed concerns over the developing situation, as there are elements in the government and military of Pakistan who support Islamic extremism. Islamabad: After the Taliban's return to Afghanistan, various former diplomats, military experts have expressed concerns over the collapse of the Islamabad government as the Taliban has expressed its intention about developing its nuclear programme, said foreign policy expert Fabien Baussart. In ...