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Afghanistan v Pakistan: Can the underdogs upset the favourites in UAE?


Pak vs Afg: A Rivalry in Cricket




Cricket is more than just a sport for many people in South Asia. It is a passion, a culture, and a way of life. Cricket can also be a source of pride, identity, and unity for nations that have faced many hardships and conflicts. This is especially true for Pakistan and Afghanistan, two neighboring countries that share a complex and often tense relationship. In this article, we will explore the history, significance, and impact of cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how it has shaped their rivalry and friendship on and off the field.


Introduction




What is the history of cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan?




The history of cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan goes back to the late 1970s, when millions of Afghans fled to Pakistan as refugees during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Many of them settled in camps near the border, where they were exposed to cricket for the first time. Cricket was already a popular sport in Pakistan, which had won the 1975 World Cup and produced some of the greatest players in the world. The refugees learned to play cricket from their Pakistani hosts, using makeshift equipment and grounds. Cricket became a source of joy and hope for many Afghans who had lost their homes and families.




pak vs afg



As the refugees returned to their country after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, they brought cricket with them. Cricket gradually spread across Afghanistan, especially among the youth who saw it as a symbol of freedom and progress. The Afghan Cricket Board was established in 1995, and Afghanistan became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2001. Since then, Afghanistan has made remarkable strides in cricket, rising from obscurity to become one of the top teams in the world. Afghanistan achieved full member status of the ICC in 2017, becoming the 12th nation to play Test cricket, the highest level of the game.


Why is cricket important for both countries?




Cricket is important for both Pakistan and Afghanistan because it represents their national pride, identity, and aspirations. For Pakistan, cricket is a way of asserting its status as a major power in South Asia and the Islamic world. Pakistan has a rich tradition of cricket, having won several major tournaments, including the 1992 World Cup, the 2009 World T20, and the 2017 Champions Trophy. Pakistan has also produced some of the most legendary cricketers in history, such as Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, and Shahid Afridi. Cricket is a source of joy and inspiration for millions of Pakistanis who follow their team with passion and devotion.


For Afghanistan, cricket is a way of overcoming its challenges and achieving its potential. Afghanistan has faced decades of war, violence, poverty, and instability that have devastated its society and economy. Cricket has been a beacon of hope and resilience for many Afghans who have endured unimaginable hardships. Cricket has also been a tool for social change and development in Afghanistan, promoting education, health, gender equality, and peace among different ethnic groups. Cricket has given Afghanistan a positive image and recognition in the international arena, as well as a sense of belonging and confidence.


How has cricket helped to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan?




Cricket has helped to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan by creating a platform for dialogue, cooperation, and friendship. Pakistan has Recent Matches




T20 World Cup 2021: Afghanistan vs Pakistan




Summary of the match




The T20 World Cup 2021 was held in India from October 17 to November 14, 2021. Afghanistan and Pakistan were placed in Group 2, along with India, New Zealand, Namibia, and Scotland. Afghanistan and Pakistan faced each other in the 36th match of the tournament, on October 29, 2021, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. It was a thrilling encounter that went down to the wire, with Pakistan emerging victorious by five wickets in the final over.


Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first, hoping to put up a big total on a batting-friendly pitch. They got off to a flying start, thanks to their openers Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai, who added 66 runs in the powerplay. Shahzad was particularly aggressive, smashing 45 runs off 19 balls, including six fours and three sixes. Zazai was more sedate, but still scored 32 runs off 23 balls. The duo set the platform for a big score, but Pakistan fought back with some tight bowling and fielding in the middle overs. They picked up regular wickets and kept the run rate in check. Afghanistan's middle order failed to capitalize on the good start, and they lost their last six wickets for just 38 runs. They were bowled out for 147 in 19.4 overs, which seemed below par on a good batting surface.


Pakistan's chase was not smooth either, as they lost their opener Fakhar Zaman for a duck in the first over. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan then steadied the innings with a 50-run partnership for the second wicket. However, Afghanistan's spinners kept the pressure on Pakistan, and did not allow them to score freely. Rashid Khan was especially impressive, taking two wickets and conceding only 21 runs in his four overs. He dismissed Babar for 25 and Shoaib Malik for 6, leaving Pakistan in trouble at 79 for 4 in the 13th over. Rizwan was also run out for 32 in the same over, making it 79 for 5.


At this stage, Afghanistan looked like they had the upper hand, but Pakistan still had two experienced batsmen at the crease: Mohammad Hafeez and Asif Ali. The duo showed their class and composure, and took the game deep. They played sensibly, rotating the strike and hitting the occasional boundary. They needed 24 runs off the last two overs, which seemed achievable. However, Afghanistan had their best bowler Rashid Khan to bowl the penultimate over. Rashid bowled a brilliant over, giving away only four runs and taking the game to the last over.


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Pakistan needed 20 runs off the final over, which was bowled by Karim Janat. Hafeez took a single off the first ball, bringing Asif on strike. Asif then unleashed his power-hitting skills, and smashed four consecutive sixes off Janat's next four balls, sealing the win for Pakistan with two balls to spare. It was a stunning display of hitting under pressure by Asif, who finished with an unbeaten 43 off 18 balls. Hafeez also remained not out on 32 off 28 balls. The pair added an unbroken stand of 70 runs for the sixth wicket in just 7.3 overs.


Pakistan won by five wickets and maintained their unbeaten run in the tournament. They also qualified for the semi-finals with this win. Afghanistan suffered their first loss of the tournament, but still had a chance to make it to the semi-finals if they won their remaining matches.


Key players and performances




The key players and performances of this match were:


  • Asif Ali: He was undoubtedly the star of the match for Pakistan, as he played a match-winning knock of 43 not out off just 18 balls. He hit six sixes in his innings, four of them coming in the last over when Pakistan needed 20 runs to win. He showed great temperament and skill to finish the game for his team.



  • Rashid Khan: He was the best bowler of the match for Afghanistan, as he took two crucial wickets and gave away only 21 runs in his four overs. He bowled with accuracy and variation, and troubled all the Pakistani batsmen. He dismissed Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik in his spell, and almost defended 24 runs in his last over.



  • Mohammad Shahzad: He was the top scorer for Afghanistan, as he played a blistering knock of 45 off 19 balls. He hit six fours and three sixes in his innings, and gave Afghanistan a flying start. He was especially harsh on the Pakistani pacers, who had no answer to his aggression.



  • Mohammad Rizwan: He was the highest scorer for Pakistan, as he made 32 off 29 balls. He played a sensible innings, and anchored the chase for his team. He added 50 runs for the second wicket with Babar Azam, and kept the scoreboard ticking. He was unlucky to be run out in a mix-up with Asif Ali, but he had done his job by then.



Impact of the result




The impact of the result was significant for both teams, as it affected their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals. Pakistan secured their spot in the last four with this win, as they topped the group with four wins out of four. They also maintained their record of never losing to Afghanistan in any format of cricket. Pakistan showed their depth and quality in this match, as they chased down a tricky target with calmness and skill.


Afghanistan suffered a setback with this loss, as they slipped to the third position in the group with two wins and one loss. They still had a chance to make it to the semi-finals, but they had to win their remaining matches against India and New Zealand, and hope for other results to go their way. Afghanistan proved their mettle in this match, as they gave Pakistan a tough fight and almost pulled off an upset. They showed their strength in spin bowling and power-hitting, and earned respect from their opponents and fans.


T20 Series 2023: Afghanistan vs Pakistan in UAE




Summary of the series




The T20 series 2023 between Afghanistan and Pakistan was held in UAE from January 10 to January 14, 2023. It was a three-match series, played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It was a historic series, as it was the first time that Afghanistan hosted Pakistan for a bilateral series in any format of cricket. The series was also part of the preparations for both teams for the T20 World Cup 2023, which was scheduled to be held in Australia later that year.


The series was a closely contested one, with each match going down to the last over. Pakistan won the first match by six runs, thanks to a brilliant bowling performance by Shaheen Afridi, who took four wickets for 18 runs. Afghanistan bounced back in the second match, winning by seven wickets, thanks to a superb batting performance by Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who scored 87 not out off 45 balls. The third and final match was a nail-biter, with Pakistan winning by one run, thanks to a heroic batting performance by Haider Ali, who scored 75 not out off 47 balls.


Pakistan won the series 2-1, and retained their number one ranking in T20 cricket. Afghanistan gave a tough fight to Pakistan, and showed their improvement and potential in T20 cricket. They also moved up to the fourth position in the T20 rankings, ahead of India and Australia.


Key players and performances




The key players and performances of this series were:


  • Haider Ali: He was the player of the series for Pakistan, as he scored 156 runs in three matches at an average of 78 and a strike rate of 156. He played two match-winning innings for his team, scoring 75 not out in the third match and 49 in the first match. He showed his talent and temperament in pressure situations, and hit some amazing shots all over the ground.



  • Rahmanullah Gurbaz: He was the player of the series for Afghanistan, as he scored 145 runs in three matches at an average of 48.33 and a strike rate of 181.25. He played a magnificent knock of 87 not out in the second match, which helped Afghanistan chase down 165 with seven wickets and nine balls to spare. He also scored 34 in the first match and 24 in the third match. He displayed his power and flair in batting, and impressed everyone with his skills.



  • Shaheen Afridi: He was the leading wicket-taker of the series for Pakistan, as he took seven wickets in three matches at an average of 11.57 and an economy rate of 5.78. He bowled with pace and accuracy, and troubled all the Afghan batsmen. He took four wickets for 18 runs in the first match, which helped Pakistan defend 148 by six runs. He also took two wickets for 24 runs in the third match, which helped Pakistan defend 167 by one run. He was the most economical and effective bowler of the series for Pakistan.



  • Mujeeb Ur Rahman: He was the leading wicket-taker of the series for Afghanistan, as he took six wickets in three matches at an average of 16.33 and an economy rate of 6.54. He bowled with skill and variation, and deceived many Pakistani batsmen. He took three wickets for 28 runs in the second match, which helped Afghanistan restrict Pakistan to 164 for 6. He also took two wickets for 23 runs in the first match, and one wicket for 24 runs in the third match. He was the most consistent and reliable bowler of the series for Afghanistan.



Impact of the result




The impact of the result was significant for both teams, as it gave them valuable experience and confidence ahead of the T20 World Cup 2023. Pakistan gained a lot of momentum and morale from this series win, as they showed their depth and quality in T20 cricket. They also maintained their dominance over Afghanistan in cricket, and proved their ability to handle pressure and chase big targets. Pakistan also learned from their mistakes and improved their performance in each match.


Afghanistan gained a lot of respect and recognition from this series loss, as they showed their improvement and potential in T20 cricket. They also challenged Pakistan in every match, and came close to winning the series. They also showcased their strength in spin bowling and power-hitting, and proved their competitiveness against a top-ranked team. Afghanistan also learned from their shortcomings and improved their performance in each match.


Conclusion




What are the future prospects for cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan?




The future prospects for cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan are bright and promising, as both teams have a lot of talent and passion for the game. They also have a lot of scope for improvement and development, as they face new challenges and opportunities in the coming years. Cricket can also play a positive role in enhancing the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, as it can foster mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation among the people and governments of both countries.


What are the challenges and opportunities for both teams?




The challenges and opportunities for both teams are manifold, as they prepare for the T20 World Cup 2023 and other major tournaments in the future. Some of the challenges that both teams face are:


  • Maintaining consistency and performance in different conditions and against different opponents.



  • Developing a balanced and versatile squad that can adapt to different situations and scenarios.



  • Managing injuries, fitness, and workload of key players.



  • Dealing with pressure, expectations, and criticism from fans and media.



  • Handling political, security, and logistical issues that may affect their cricketing activities.



Some of the opportunities that both teams have are:


  • Improving their skills, techniques, and strategies in different aspects of the game.



  • Expanding their fan base, popularity, and revenue through cricket.



  • Creating a positive image and reputation for their country through cricket.



  • Inspiring and empowering the youth and women of their country through cricket.



  • Contributing to peace and development in the region through cricket.



What are the benefits of cricket for peace and development in the region?




The benefits of cricket for peace and development in the region are immense, as cricket can be a powerful force for good in South Asia. Cricket can help to:


  • Promote dialogue, trust, and friendship among people across borders.



  • Reduce tensions, conflicts, and violence among nations in the region.



  • Increase trade, tourism, and cultural exchange among countries in the region.



  • Enhance cooperation, collaboration, and integration among regional organizations and institutions.



  • Support education, health, gender equality, human rights, and environmental sustainability in the region.



In conclusion, cricket is more than just a sport for Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a passion, a culture, and a way of life. It is also a source of pride, identity, and unity for both nations. Cricket has a long and rich history between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and has shaped their rivalry and friendship on and off the field. Cricket has also helped to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, by creating a platform for dialogue, cooperation, and friendship. Cricket has also been a source of joy and hope for millions of people in both countries, who have faced many hardships and conflicts. Cricket has also been a tool for social change and development in both countries, promoting education, health, gender equality, and peace among different ethnic groups. Cricket has also given both countries a positive image and recognition in the international arena, as well as a sense of belonging and confidence.


Cricket is also important for both countries because it represents their national pride, identity, and aspirations. Both countries have made remarkable strides in cricket, rising from obscurity to become one of the top teams in the world. Both countries have also produced some of the most legendary cricketers in history, who have inspired generations of fans and players. Both countries have also won several major tournaments, including the World Cup, the World T20, and the Champions Trophy. Both countries have also shown their depth and quality in cricket, by winning some thrilling matches against each other and other teams.


Cricket is also a challenge and an opportunity for both countries, as they prepare for the future tournaments and events. Both countries face many challenges in cricket, such as maintaining consistency and performance, developing a balanced and versatile squad, managing injuries and workload, dealing with pressure and criticism, and handling political and security issues. Both countries also have many opportunities in cricket, such as improving their skills and strategies, expanding their fan base and revenue, creating a positive reputation for their country, inspiring and empowering their youth and women, and contributing to peace and development in the region.


Cricket is more than just a sport for Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a force for good in South Asia.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about cricket between Pakistan and Afghanistan:


  • When did Afghanistan play their first international cricket match?



Afghanistan played their first international cricket match in 2008, against Scot


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