It was history in the making for a rebellious Afghanistan who would defy a world powerhouse in cricket in the form of Pakistan and would go onto bag the series by a clinical 2-1 margin. They would go onto craft an unassailable lead in the two opening T20Is that would not be effaced albeit Pakistan’s resolute win in the series finale.
After knocking over the Pakistani batting unit in the series opener, they would leave chains of steel on their continental neighbours in the second T20I. Following which Pakistan did manage to show their true colours but it was already too late. This was a historic outing for the Afghans whose country have been tattered by war and its advanced shenanigans.
Here is what Raees Ahmadzai had to say about the rise of Afghanistan
Assistant Afghan coach, Raees Ahmadzai described the exact feelings to ESPNCricinfo about what it felt to conquer the stalwarts of Asia as they were bulldozed completely. Ahmadzai said, “Beating a higher ranked team is big for the country. I can’t explain the significance of this victory in words because it carries a lot of emotions. This is going to give our cricket a new spirit and give us a belief that we can do it and we did it. It became history and we are going to take this trophy back to Kabul giving our people much-needed joy.”
He continued, “It is special to win against a top nation,” Ahmadzai said, “And Pakistan fielded a strong side with a lot of PSL performers who have been scoring big runs and taking wickets. So it’s exciting to beat a top cricket nation. It’s not like we never came close to beating Pakistan before. There were some close games in the past in which Pakistan won but it’s good to pull a series.”
There was more that followed that stated, “This is not just a win for Afghanistan cricket but for cricket as a game because this victory is going to inspire many youngsters who will start picking up the game in Afghanistan. Our people back home were skeptical, and taunted us, doubting our ability if we are ever going to beat a bigger team like Pakistan, India, Australia, and England. There were fans who don’t understand the process but just want to win and want to take pride in it and now everyone is happy. It’s like a festival now. Cricket has been a major source of happiness, people love cricket and this series win brought a lot of smiles. The game is already growing in the country and such wins change the dynamic at the grassroots.”
“We knew that Pakistan team coming from scoring so many runs in PSL and they could go all with the same pattern hitting uppish. They are very talented cricketers but we knew the pressure of international cricket is going to test them. So we had to exploit the conditions and the rhythm they were enjoying playing in Pakistan. We have world-class spinners and we had to use our new ball smartly”, continued Raees.
Know the challenges faced by Afghanistan to brave the likes of their continental neighbour
He further stated, “We didn’t have much time to prepare for the series but we knew this series was an opportunity to learn and execute what we know. We took full advantage of the conditions and restricted them to 90 and 130 odd runs. There are a lot of takeaways from the series, especially in our fast bowling department, we know we need to get more control in death bowling. We have stroke makers in our batting line-up but we have made them learn to take the innings deep when you have a bigger target in front of them. We have world-class spinners and they delivered up to the expectations.”
He concluded by citing a passage from the series, stating, “There was an incident that, to the outsider might seem like an example of the usually tense atmosphere in these games, but actually showcases Nabi’s smarts. Viewers might remember when he dismissed Faheem in the first T20, he turned around and apparently stared at Imad Wasim at the non-strikers. In fact, they had been discussing how much the ball was breaking on the pitch and when he took the wicket, he turned to show Imad, a team-mate at Karachi Kings, how much control he has over his bowling to have landed it exactly right.”