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HomeAl JazeeraAfghanistan erupts in birthday party as staff reaches T20 Global Cup semifinal...

Afghanistan erupts in birthday party as staff reaches T20 Global Cup semifinal | ICC Males’s T20 Global Cup Information

Fans take to the streets from Kabul to Kandahar and Khost to Laghman as Afghanistan reach first-ever World Cup semifinal.

Zikria, a 30-year-old Kabul resident, stayed up after the predawn prayers to follow Afghanistan’s ICC T20 World Cup 2024 virtual knockout match against Bangladesh that started at 5am (00:30 GMT).

Four and a half hours and multiple rain interruptions later, Afghanistan edged Bangladesh in a thrilling contest and booked their maiden semifinal appearance at the tournament.

“I kept praying [for Afghanistan] throughout the match,” Zikria told Al Jazeera. “I am proud of my team, my captain Rashid Khan and all the support staff.”

Shortly after Fazalhaq Farooqi dismissed Mustafizur Rahman to seal Afghanistan’s place in the last four, celebrations erupted in various parts of the cricket-mad Asian country.

‘Praying to win the final’

Fans, mostly men, poured into the streets and city centres to cheer their team.

The win was hailed by the Taliban government that took power in the country after the withdrawal of US forces nearly three years ago.

Cricket is by far the most popular sport in the country that often brings joy to the people of Afghanistan which witnessed almost four decades of war as well as economic and political instability.

Afghanistan’s win also knocked out former champions Australia, who have twice pulled out of a bilateral series against Afghanistan men’s team citing “deteriorating human rights for women and girls in the country under Taliban rule” but still went ahead against them in ICC events.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi congratulated Rashid and his team in a video posted by the Afghanistan Cricket Board on X.

Muttaqi spoke to Rashid over a video call and the beaming captain received his felicitations.

Abdullah, a 20-year-old fan from Kabul, said the win was a “dream come true” for him.

“I cannot express my feelings right now, I am overwhelmed,” the visibly emotional fan said a few hours after the match had ended. “Now, we are hoping and praying to win the final.”

Afghanistan have never made it to the knockout stage of any ICC World Cup. Until now, their best finish in the T20 World Cup had been reaching the second round three times. They are yet to progress past the first round in the 50-over World Cup.

Afghan fans gather to watch the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2024 super eight match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh
Afghan fans gather to watch the match against Bangladesh on a big screen at an intersection in Jalalabad [AFP]

‘Huge inspiration for young people in Afghanistan’

Rashid led from the front on the field as he hit three important sixes in his innings of 19 and then took four wickets as Afghanistan won by eight runs.

“It’s a massive achievement for us as a team and as a nation to be in the semifinals,” the 25-year-old said after the match. “[This win] is going to be a huge inspiration for young people back home in Afghanistan.”

Another fan, Imran, 22, believes all of Afghanistan was praying for the team.

“I have no words [to express my joy],” he told Al Jazeera in Kabul.

Fans, irrespective of their age, were seen celebrating.

Pictures and videos on social media showed wild celebrations in various parts of the country, including Khost, Jalalabad and Laghman province, as well as in Kandahar city.

Afghan cricket fans celebrate their team's victory during the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh, in the city of Khost province eastern of Afghanistan, Tuesday, June. 25, 2024. Afghanistan edged Bangladesh to reach the Twenty20 World Cup semifinals for the first time and followed India into the last four following a combination of results that eliminated 2021 champion Australia on Monday. (AP Photo/Saifullah Zahir)
Afghan cricket fans celebrate their team’s victory in Khost province [Saifullah Zahir/AP]

Some danced on the streets, while others chanted: “Long live Afghanistan cricket.”

Aerial firing, a common celebratory practice in some parts of the world, could also be seen as fans watched the game on huge screens in city centres.

Afghanistan will face South Africa in the first semifinal on June 27 at 00:30 GMT.

Additional reporting by Mohsin Khan Momand from Kabul.


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