In Jalalabad, the fans opened fire and apparently twenty people were injured. In Dhaka, the players danced to Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik’s numbers the whole night, with left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran stealing the show on the make-shift dance floor. Welcome to celebrations, Afghanistan style.
The high and mighty, also, joined in. President Hamid Karzai picked up the phone and congratulated the whole team. Finance minister Ishaq Dar announced a cash award of $1,000 each for the squad. Afghanistan Cricket Board added another $1,000 to the package. But that’s not the end of the story.
Surprisingly, the team had a muted on-field celebration after their biggest victory in cricket at Fatullah last night. Afghanistan’s senior most player Karim Sadiq explained: “The home fans were already upset and a wild celebration at the ground would have hurt them more. So we decided to wait. Once we reached the hotel, we let our hair down,” Sadiq said, speaking to The Indian Express.
“First, the President called. Then the finance minister spoke to the team management on phone and finally Bollywood took over. From Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman to Chennai Express, every Shah Rukh Khan movie is very popular in Afghanistan. One of those pictures was playing on the video, but for a change no one seemed to be interested last night. We all were dancing and singing and then someone turned on the music player and it started to roll out Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik songs.
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The celebrations continued till the early hours and today we’ve a celebration dinner,” he added.
Fans back home took their merriment to the wild side. “Ah, they had gone mad. A friend sent me a video this morning. People came down to the streets in Jalalabad and Kabul and opened fire. Crazy celebrations! I heard 20 of them were injured. I wish they recover quickly,” Sadiq said.
“This is just the beginning. For the first time we are playing on such a big stage and we won an ODI against a full member in just four attempts. This victory has given us belief and we will carry forward this belief to the World T20. We think we can reach the quarterfinals there because we’ve a good team and T20 is anybody’s game,” said captain Mohammad Nabi.
Eyes are now fixed on the bigger stage and of course on the IPL. Who knows, a good in the upcoming World T20 and the door might be ajar for Nabi and Co. next year.
Up Next: Sri Lanka
The immediate goal, however, is to do well in the rest of the Asia Cup. On Monday, Afghanistan take on the table toppers Sri Lanka, who have both their matches so far, against Pakistan and India.
With two wins and a healthy runrate of +0.168, Sri Lanka have virtually assured themselves of a berth in the finals of Asia Cup, while Afghanistan’s hopes of further progress in the tournament will depend on the outcome of the match on Monday.
Afghanistan have four points from two matches with one win and a loss in their kitty. However, they don’t have anything to lose from this tournament as they are featuring in the Asia Cup for the first time in its history.
Should Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka, it would complete a fairytale journey for them in the tournament, giving the war-torn nation a desperately needed boost. Their victory over Bangladesh was wildly celebrated back home on the streets.
Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan has already sounded a warning bell for India and Sri Lanka, stating that they are “hungry to win” against them.
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