The minnows, as they are referred to, Afghanistan cricket team gave hot favourites India and formidable Pakistan run for their money in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Afghanistan national cricket team got its full ICC membership and the Test playing status only in June, 2017, becoming the 12th full member of the global governing body of cricket.

Being a new entrant and a war-ravaged country, Afghanistan had to work hard to get where it is now. Most of the Afghanistan players learned their cricket in refugee camps. It may have made them a resilient side.

Though, yet to taste a victory in the ongoing World Cup, the minnows came close to defeating both the big bullies in cricket –India and Pakistan. In its match against India, its superlative bowling attack restricted one of the world’s best batting sides to 224/8. Chasing, they took the game to the last over before losing it by 11 runs. Afghanistan repeated its spirited performance against Pakistan too. In the last over, the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side managed a 3 wickets victory with two balls remaining.

What makes Afghanistan so formidable?

Moments before the India-Pakistan clash last week, former cricketer and present Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, had asked his side to play fearlessly without thinking of losing it. He also quoted his good friend Sunil Gavaskar saying, the game of cricket is 60 per cent about mental strength and 40 per cent about talents. The victory and loss depends on how you game the match in your mind. If the world winning captain and one of the best test players can’t be wrong in their assessment of the game and ‘how to win it gyaan’.

Being a war-ravaged country, Afghanistan has no means of amusement except the recent successes in cricket. It has nothing to lose and even a tinniest achievement makes a lot of difference to them. That is why a fighting loss or graceful performance make them happy and they look for a future where they would make a difference to the world. It makes them fearless and mentally tough. At this stage, they can challenge any side of the world.

Their real success would come when other nations play cricket in their home. When? Time will come. Only time will tell if it may happen. Until then they have made India their home. Being a resident of Greater Noida, Afghanistan is my team as the western Uttar Pradesh town hosts their home venue. I wish them many successes ahead.

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