From the refugee camps of Peshawar to the immaculate green turf of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here, rising up through the ranks of world cricket in just a little over a decade, it’s been a remarkable journey for Afghanistan’s cricketers.
“It’s been beautiful, isn’t it?” said Dinesh Karthik, the India wicket-keeper batsman, looking forward to the “honour” of playing against Afghanistan in their maiden outing in Test whites.
“Their journey has been an inspiration for international cricket. Everyone knows it’s a tough place and the turmoil that they are going through, but in spite of that they are able to inspire people with their performances,” he said.
As the Afghans themselves have pointed out, the success of the likes of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who are popular picks in Twenty20 leagues around the world, has inspired several youngsters back home, and led to a burgeoning talent pool at the grass roots.
In the ICC Under 19 World Cup 2018 in New Zealand earlier this year, they finished fourth, demonstrating again the strength of their age-group riches. To get so far with limited resources and infrastructure is credit to them, said Karthik on Tuesday, ahead of the start of the one-off Test on Thursday.
“They’re able to produce big players even in a tournament like the IPL (Indian Premier League),” pointed out Karthik. “They have some key players who are producing some big performances for them. I’m happy to see a country like that doing so well in cricket.
“Today, they are household names in the few years they’ve played. It’s only going to get better. I genuinely hope they have the opportunity to play a lot of Test cricket,” Karthik added.