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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Rashid and Co win brings small joy to war-ravaged Afghanistan

Rashid and Co win brings small joy to war-ravaged Afghanistan

Source: PTI
June 23, 2024 16:50 IST
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'I feel like we are so lucky to be here giving this happiness to people back home. We hardly see these kind of events back home where they could celebrate and enjoy those moments. That's something which really, really satisfies me.'

Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rashid Khan celebrate their win over Australia in their Super Eight match at the T20 World Cup, in Kingstown, St Vincent, on Sunday

IMAGE: Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rashid Khan celebrate their win over Australia in their Super Eight match at the T20 World Cup, in Kingstown, St Vincent, on Sunday. Photograph: Afghanistan Cricket Board/X

Glenn Maxwell's breath-taking double hundred denied a distraught Rashid Khan forty winks during the ICC ODI World Cup in November last year, but the Afghanistan skipper can now be happily awake after settling scores with Australia for that mind-numbing defeat in Mumbai.

 

Afghanistan kept their semi-final hopes alive with a well-earned 21-run win against Australia, and it will certainly heal the scars of that that forgettable night in Mumbai, when Maxwell struck an unbeaten 201 to help the Aussies recover miraculously from 91 for 7 and chase down 292.

“I think I can sleep better now. But that was a night which didn't let me sleep. The game kept coming into my mind,” Rashid said at the post-match media conference, recollecting that epic fightback by a hamstrung Maxwell, who hit 21 fours and 10 sixes.

“Definitely, I didn't sleep the whole night (on November 7, 2023) and I feel like tonight because of the happiness, I won't be able to sleep. That's how happy the whole team is,” said a visibly happy Rashid.

The spinner then tried to provide an elaborate perspective to what the victory meant for a war-ravaged, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, where their cricket team's biggest win is an escape from daily hassles.

“It's a massive win for us as a team, as a nation. It's not just like a bilateral game. It's a World Cup game, and definitely in a World Cup, you're beating the best side. It's a great achievement. And you're (Australia) the winners of the 2021 World Cup.

“So, beating a team like that, I think it always gives you so much energy and doesn't let you sleep as well,” he said.

Having beaten New Zealand at the group league stage, Afghanistan's win also kept Group 1 in Super 8 alive.

If India beat Australia on Monday, then all Afghanistan would need is a simple win over Bangladesh to make it to their maiden semi-final at a global event.

 Afghanistan's players celebrate after Mohammad Nabi claimed the wicket of David Warner.

IMAGE: Afghanistan's players celebrate after Mohammad Nabi claimed the wicket of David Warner. Photograph: Afghanistan Cricket Board/X

“And I mentioned earlier, cricket is the only source of happiness back home. That's the only source left in Afghanistan where people could celebrate. And if we keep that source away from us as well, I don't know where Afghanistan will remain.

"I feel like we are so lucky to be here giving this happiness to people back home. We hardly see these kind of events back home where they could celebrate and enjoy those moments. That's something which really, really satisfies me,” Rashid, one of the prominent global ambassadors of his country, said.

The only issue Rashid sidestepped was Australia's continuous refusal to host Afghanistan for a bilateral series because of its government's policy of not engaging in any sporting ties with a nation that doesn't allow its women to take part in sports.

“Wish we could do something, and wish that was a kind of solution for it, we would have been happy, but I don't know what's the solution for that.

“....Some things, government, and political things, I don't know much about these things and I don't like it as well. So, I have no answer for this, but my only thing always in my mind is I love to play against the big teams.”

A regular member of the Adelaide Strikers in Australia's Big Bash League, Rashid chose to remain politically correct, speaking about the love showered on him whenever he plays Down Under.

“Whenever I go to Australia in Big Bash, I think I have got so much love and support from the fans there. They have given me so much love. Even in the 2022 World Cup, when we were playing in Adelaide against Australia, I got more support than them.

“Every city I go to, huge amount of support is there and people love giving me so much love, especially during the tough days in 2019 when my dad passed away.

“So, that was the hardest moment for me. The amount of love and support I got from everyone in the team, and also from the fans, I call them a family,” he concluded.

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