Interivew: Mohammad Nabi ‘Cricket is the sign of peace in Afghanistan’

Interview: Mohammad Nabi ‘Cricket is the sign of peace in Afghanistan’

Interview: Mohammad Nabi ‘Cricket is the sign of peace in Afghanistan’: Sports play different roles at various places, for Afghanistan the game of cricket has united the citizens, who otherwise lived in fear of terrorists and the Taliban. With them also supporting the team, cricket gave them more reasons to celebrate. The team has seen all the difficult time, they have made a considerable growth and development and qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was a real high in itself.

Mohammad Nabi
Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi with former President Hamid Karzai before leaving for the world cup 2015 campaign.

It has been really tough for Afghanistan to compete with teams who have better infrastructure and facilities to bring up their game. But, the spirited team led by a motivated leader in Mohammad Nabi they have been successful in winning their first ever match in world cup cricket by beating Scotland in the match.

The whole of Afghanistan rose to the occasion in joy, from the common people to the special class the entire nation seems to be on the same plane when it comes to the passion for the game.

Ankit Mishra of Cricket Tracker got a chance to interview the Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi days after the teams historic win. Edited excerpts:

Is the party over? How long did it last?

  • The party is on; we are all so happy and hope we get more chances to celebrate before the end of world cup.

Describe us the feeling of winning your first world cup match?

  • I believe it was our day, the feeling was unbelievable. It is really tough to describe those feelings in words.

How nervy were you and the team in those closing moments?

  • To be honest we were very much nervous; but at the same time we were hopeful till Sami was playing. But after his wicket there was nervousness until the time we actually won.

Excited with the backing and response fans have extended to the team at the stadiums and back home?

  • We are so lucky, everywhere that we go we feel like we are playing in our own country. The support is phenomenal not only by the Afghans but all the cricket fans; also in the world cup all the people support us on the ground as well. I’m really thankful to all those who are backing us.

How much will your wins and performance at the World Cup change things in Afghanistan?

  • Cricket is the sign of peace in Afghanistan when we won the game against Bangladesh in Asia cup & now vs Scotland in the world cup everyone was celebrating the win even Talibani’s were cheering & enjoying the victory.

People are looking at the growth of Afghanistan cricket team as a huge rise; were you always around there or things changed quite a bit in recent times?

  • Since we have started playing cricket we are all together, we have gone through such bad times. We did not have proper grounds to play at; we played matches without any infrastructure on small dusty grounds. But our hopes were high and we had the passion for cricket, we wanted to be among the main stream teams in the cricket world and now I can proudly say we have achieved it Alhamdulillah.

What do you make from your performances at the world cup, does it suggest the team lacks experience or is about infrastructural fall back or some talent issue?

  • We have the talent, but the problem is with one or two matches you cannot judge the pitch & conditions, we are getting used to conditions in Australia and New Zealand gradually. And our performance is getting better as well. Ours is a team that likes pace and the pitches here do really suit us. We are trying to minimize the mistakes and I hope we will play better cricket in remaining matches.

But there is a lot to learn the more you play the better the team will become. Will the Afghanistan Cricket Board now try to emphasize on playing more matches against not just with other associates but even test playing teams?

  • We do hope and our board is always in contact with other boards for matches. Some of them have agreed and have given us time from their busy schedules. But because of ICCs new policies only 10 teams will be participating in the world cup 2019. It seems difficult for us to get more chances in world cricket.

What is the dressing room atmosphere like at the moment; were the boys feeling a bit low after losing initially?

  • We are not favorites to win the world cup, that’s why we are not in so much pressure. We will look to attack the opposition team whenever it’s possible. The teams which have high expectations on them come under pressure, while we feel free to play our natural game. We don’t want to disappoint our fans with poor performances; our aim is at least to go through to the main stage. We want to give our team some wins to satisfy our fans as much as we can.

It must be a really tough job to keep the team and the players motivated all the time, especially when you are not playing cricket; how big a task is it?

  • As the leader of the team you have to be at your 100%. You have to perform in all departments of the game, you have to motivate everyone separately because it’s a big event, even big teams comes under the pressure but the best leader is the one who leads his team from the front and is present where he is needed the most. Seriously leading your teams in Asia is a very big task.

Was it tough for you guys to initially cope up with the conditions and pitches in Australia and New Zealand?

  • Yes as everyone knows UAE has been our home ground due to security reasons and the pitches in UAE are slow and favors spin. Whereas tracks in Australia and New Zealand are very different, there is much more pace and bounce. We got used to it in our first tour of HPP by ICC, where we won four games including the one at Auckland. We love this track (Auckland) and we are really enjoying our games.

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