Behind Afghanistan’s Rise in the World of Cricket

Behind Afghanistan’s Rise in the World of Cricket

In a stunning turn of events, the Afghanistan cricket team did the unthinkable by beating teams like New Zealand and Australia to reach their maiden Semifinals in the 2024 T20 World Cup.

afghanistan beat last editions's runners-up in the group stage

While they did falter in the Semi-Finals and against the Proteas, the Afghan boys won many hearts to have come to this stage. Big teams like New Zealand and Australia failed to impress in the 2024 World Cup edition, but the lesser-seeded team Afghanistan beat Australia in the Super 8s to book their place in the Semi-Finals. Who would have thought Afghanistan cricket would come so far in such a short period of time?


So how did a lower-ranked Afghanistan team achieve the unthinkable this World Cup?

The fans who have followed the Afghan team for the past few years would know that the Afghan team backed by a very potent bowling attack are a dangerous side in the shorter format of the game.

afghanistan cannot be taken lightly in major tournaments

Who should be credited for the Rise of Afghan Cricket?

Afghanistan’s rise in world cricket in the backdrop of a war-torn country is just remarkable. After becoming a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2017, the team reached the semifinals of the 2024 World T20 championship for the first time. While there has been a decline in some of the Test-playing nations recently, Team Afghanistan has seen a meteoric rise in the quality of their game. Once dubbed as a minnow, the team has become a big force in the limited form of the game.

Only with love and passion for the game, they have managed such success. From playing in refugee camps to now a great international team, Team Afghanistan has come a long way.


The Initial Support

In a war-torn country, Afghanistan was in shambles and people fled to neighbouring countries as refugees. With the Taliban now in power, all kinds of sports in Afghanistan were banned. Afghanistan had been in a state of war since the dawn of the 21st century, forcing millions of Afghans to flee the country, taking shelter at refugee camps in and around Pakistan. It is here, that these refugees grew up watching cricket being played by the locals and playing with taped balls and sticks for bats.

afghani refugee playing local cricket

The young Afghan refugees played with their Pakistani counterparts in street cricket and gained cricketing knowledge. Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was formed in 1995 with the help of the PCB. Seeing cricket’s popularity, the Taliban lifted the ban on cricket and Afghans were allowed to play cricket in the country. Cricket soon became the national pastime for the average Afghans.

Impressed by the growth of Afghan Cricket in 5 years, ICC granted them the status of an Affiliate Member within a few months.


The Role of BCCI and Team India – Changing the Rules of the Game for the Afghans

While they have never advertised it, India and the BCCI have played a major part in helping Afghanistan achieve new heights in world Cricket. They have been instrumental in helping the team improve their game and become internationally competitive. With Pakistan’s internal issues and an unstable government, Afghanistan shifted base to India. In 2015, India as part of their Afghan Cricket development program gave the necessary resources to build a strong independent Afghan cricket team.

indian star sachin tendulkar with afghan team

The cricket ground in Greater Noida, The Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex became the first temporary home ground for the Afghan players. Due to the unfortunate circumstances prevailing in their home country, the players were given the necessary facilities to help them practice the game they love so much in India. The team has now a base in Sharjah but it was BCCI who gave them the much-needed support for the development of their game. BCCI brought them to Noida where they also played some international fixtures with Ireland in 2017.

afghanistan team practicing in dehradun

Dehradun was another venue where the team was given support to practice and play international games.

With their base in India and Sharjah, BCCI helped the talented Afghan side a platform to grow their skills with brilliant coaching support.

afghanistan captian Rashid khan with Indian captain Rohit sharma


The Role of the IPL

Most players in the Afghan team are picked up by in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and most franchises have few Afghan players in their squad. IPL gives the Afghan players much-needed international exposure. This has made the Afghan Team a strong competitive team in the shorter format of the game.

afghanistan player hot pick ipl option

If there is any story to be told of sheer grit, passion, skill, dedication, and teamwork in sports, we should not look any further than the Afghan Cricket team. Afghanistan was granted ODI status and immediately proved to be giant killers with victory over Ireland, Zimbabwe, and Scotland. In less than 10 years of being granted the Associate Membership, with BCCI’s support, they were granted Test status in 2018. They won their first Test match in 2019.

rashid khan and mohammad nabi

Afghanistan players soon started getting invited to various T20 franchise tournaments across the globe and soon became household names. Due to the political situation in their country, the Afghan players practice in India with BCCI supporting the squad in all possible manner. The passionate Afghan cricket fans also play a crucial role in popularizing the game which now binds the country together.

fans fully back their team

Cricket is also part of curriculum studies in Afghanistan today.


What makes Afghan Cricket loved by many

Fearless brand of cricket. Though still not the most technically perfect team, the Afghan players cover their shortfalls by wearing their heart on their sleeves when they play.

playing with heart on their sleeves

In the 2016 World Cup, Afghanistan beat the West Indies which made the world notice this young team. The victory made it more special because West Indies went on to win the tournament in that edition.



Indian Coaching helped Afghanistan to shed its image of minnows to become giant killers. Former Indian cricket great Ajay Jadeja mentored Afghanistan’s cricket squad during the 2023 World Cup without receiving any monetary reward. Naseeb Khan, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), revealed that Jadeja rejected many monetary offers.

Ajay Jadeja refused to take money for serving as Afghanistan’s team mentor: ACB CEO (ACB Photo)

Head coach Jonathan Trott believed that Afghanistan’s crucial performance in the tournament, which helped them shake off the ‘minnows’ label, had a lot to do with Jadeja’s hiring as a mentor.



Afghanistan cricket is beyond a fairytale story and the rise of Afghanistan cricket in World Cricket is unparalleled. While the team is now at par with the best teams in the World in T20 format, they are yet to prove themselves consistently in 50 over and Test format. Do not be surprised if this team starts winning ICC trophies in the near future.


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