Afghanistan celebrates warm-up game win over Pakistan; shows off intense rivalry

Afghanistan celebrates warm-up game win over Pakistan; shows off intense rivalry

Because the victory was against Pakistan. it became much sweeter for Afghanistan as they celebrated with gunfires.

Hazratullah Zazai
Hazratullah Zazai. (Photo Source: Twitter)

As the rivalry between India and Pakistan, between Pakistan and Afghanistan is no less intense, thanks to the two countries’ complex political relationship. Some Pakistan supporters even call Afghanistan India’s ‘B’ team which signifies how deep the rivalry is. And on Friday, following Afghanistan’s three-wicket victory over Pakistan in Bristol, the formers’ supporters knew no bounds even though it was just an inconsequential warm-up game ahead of the World Cup starting May 30.

Afghanistan is playing in their second World Cup this year after they won the qualifiers defeating the West Indies last year. They made their debut in the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand but could only one match – against Scotland. This time, the side led by Gulbadin Naib looks an improved lot and their cricketers gave enough glimpse of their determination in the warm-up match.

Gunfire celebrations in Afghanistan

The supporters back in Afghanistan indulged in celebratory gunfire in a rare show of unity in a country which has been hurt by deep political fissures, agency reports said. The fact that the win came over Pakistan, the country’s eastern neighbour with which it doesn’t share the best of relations because of complex political problems, made the occasion even sweeter.

Afghanistan, like India, also accuses Pakistan of fuelling cross-border terrorism by means of backing the Taliban with which the elected government in Kabul is at loggerheads. Kabul also looks up to New Delhi as a close friend which concerns Islamabad. In the game, Pakistan scored 262 with Babar Azam scoring a hundred but 74 not out from Hashmatullah Sahidi and a brisk 49 from Hazratullah Zazai saw Afghanistan overhauling the target in the last over with three wickets to spare.

Besides the general supporters, even deeply divided politicians of Afghanistan came together to celebrate the moment. Afghanistan are yet to beat Pakistan in ODIs but will fancy their chances against the former champions’ struggling bowling attack in their game at Leeds on June 29.

Amrullah Saleh, a former intelligence chief who now running on Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s team for the presidential elections scheduled later this year, tweeted saying: “We, the Afghans, defeated Pakistan in cricket”.

The Pakistani side did not deny Afghanistan’s better performance as General Asif Ghafoor, head of the country’s military communications wing Inter-Services Public Relations congratulated Afghanistan saying: “Well played Afgan Cricket Team”.