As the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, several questions have been raised regarding the future of the Afghanistan cricket team.
Since acquiring full International Cricket Council (ICC) membership in 2017, the Afghanistan cricket team has gone from strength to strength.
Following the meteoric rise of the Afghanistan cricket team, they currently see themselves ranked seventh in Twenty20 International (T20I) ahead of the likes of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh.
The Afghanistan men’s team also holds the world record for the highest ever score in the shortest format as they posted 278/3 against Ireland at Dehradun in 2019.
However, since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban - an Islamist movement and military organization - has led to a major humanitarian crisis in the country, there is massive uncertainty looming around their cricket team.
What will happen to the Afghanistan cricket team?
Amidst the ongoing crisis, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has assured that the team will participate in the upcoming T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in Dubai.
While Afghanistan suffered a massive blow as their three-match one-day series against Australia was cancelled due to logistical problems since it was scheduled to be held in India, ACB media manager Hikmat Hassan told news agency ANI that the team will participate in the T20 World Cup.
He also insisted that their board is looking for a venue to arrange a tri-series featuring Australia and West Indies ahead of the showpiece event.
“Yes, we will play in the T20 World Cup. The preparations are on and the available players will be back to training in Kabul in the next few days. We are looking for a venue for the tri-series involving Australia and West Indies and that will be the best preparation for the showpiece event. We are speaking to some countries like Sri Lanka and also I think Malaysia. Let's see how that pans out,” Hassan told ANI.
"We are already set to play Pakistan in Hambantota and that series is also on. Also, we are planning to go ahead with the domestic T20 tournament which shall boost preparations for the players ahead of the T20 World Cup," the media manager added.
The Afghanistan cricket team currently boasts of several top cricketers especially Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi who regularly feature in T20 leagues across the globe. The duo is scheduled to participate in the remainder of the Indian T20 League to be held in UAE from September 19.
Will Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi participate in the remainder of the Indian T20 League?
Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi are not in Afghanistan as they are currently participating in the 'Hundred' tournament in the United Kingdom. While Rashid is representing Trent Rockets, Nabi is playing for London Spirits.
While former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen revealed that leg-spinner Rashid Khan was extremely worried about the crisis in the country as he was unable to shift his family, ACB president Hamid Shinwari said all the "players and their families are good" amidst the turmoil in Afghanistan.
"There is no dispute as far as cricket is concerned, everything is fine. Players and families are good,” ACB president Shinwari was quoted saying.
“We are good to go with T20 World Cup and Indian T20 League also. There are no issues at all he said. We are preparing for series with Pakistan also, we have to play ODIs with them.
"As of now we haven't officially communicated with BCCI but if required will do, they have always supported the US we have a good relationship with BCCI. Cricket is a gentleman game we are committed to delivering our best...we will play,” Shinwari added.
Afghanistan are a part of Group 2 in the T20 World Cup, which also features teams like India, Pakistan, New Zealand and two qualifying teams from the Round 1 fixtures.
Featured photo: Dibyangshu Sarkar / Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP