In the heart of Saint Vincent, Afghanistan’s spirits soar

Afghanistan vs Australia, ICC T20 WC 2024
Afghanistan vs Australia, ICC T20 WC 2024 (PC: X)

You got to salute the spirit of Afghanistan. To whack the cocky Aussies by 21 runs at the Arnos Vale Ground Kingstown, St Vincent, on Sunday was the mother and father of all upsets in the ICC T20 World Cup.

For sheer emotions, for sheer drama and intrigue, what Afghanistan did, under the leadership of Rashid Khan, has set the World Cup on fire. Not even those in stupor would have imagined Afghanistan would push the Aussies hard. Hats off to the way they have bounced back after their defeat to India, so recently.

The scheduling in this World Cup has been most taxing, chaotic and mindless. Recovery and travel have not been easy at all. It needed immense effort and to function as a team to pull off this heist. For those, who had gone to bed late on Saturday after the magnificent win India forced against Bangladesh, for Afghanistan, an Asian side, riddled by strife and poverty, to script one of the most incredible upsets is enchanting.

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Gulbadin Naib for Afghanistan vs Australia
Gulbadin Naib for Afghanistan vs Australia (PC: X)

Bookmakers are weeping, the Aussies are whining and the world is celebrating. After all, the Afghans have a massive emotional connection with all of us, given the political climate in their country. Their economy is in shambles, nobody knows what goes on in their country. Yet, sport provides solace, notably cricket, where the Afghans have been punching above their weight. Mind you, the Aussies, so full of themselves, never play a series against the Afghans.

Rashid Khan, an astute leader and the spirit of Afghans, was there in full bloom as the Aussies were collared by the scruff of their necks. Was it a case of underestimating the Afghans or being cocky, pundits can analyse later. What is important is the whole upset forced by Afghanistan  has been felt by the cricketing community all over the world.

It’s easy to pick heroes on the basis of scorecards, but the credit for this Afghan win goes to their bowlers and how they were used. Eight bowlers being used, pace and spin, this was menacing. From Naveen-ul-Haq to Azmatullah Omarazai and the glorious gang, this was magic. Of course, for sheer audacity, the way Gulbadin Naib, 33, rocked the Aussies was pulsating. To finish with four wickets in four overs for 20 runs was proof he had the guts to take up the challenge. Way back in 2014, in a T20 World Cup, R.Ashwin had taken 4 for 11 against the Aussies in Mirpur, Bangladesh. This is the West Indies, where Afghanistan have created a tremor, at close to midnight, West Indies time.

Back to Rashid Khan, he was named skipper for the World Cup after not being in command. He has responded so well, shown that he is a first-class leader who leads from the front.

Also Read: Red-letter day for Afghanistan cricket as they shock Australia in T20 World Cup