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The Meteoric Rise of Afghan Cricket with Mohammad Nabi

• 15 Feb, 24 • by Gaurav Sauran
The Meteoric Rise of Afghan Cricket with Mohammad Nabi

Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan has surpassed former Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan to claim the coveted title of No.1 all-rounder in the latest ICC ODI rankings, unveiled on February 14. Nabi’s ascent to the top came on the heels of a stellar performance, where he hammered an impressive 136 runs off 130 deliveries against Sri Lanka in the inaugural ODI of a three-game series. He is 6th oldest player to score a century.

Notably, Nabi formed a formidable 242-run partnership with Azmatullah Omarzai for the sixth wicket.  With 314 rating points under his belt, Nabi now stands four points ahead of Shakib’s 310, who had held the top position for more than five years. Shakib’s recent slip to the second spot is attributed to his absence from several Bangladesh matches due to injury woes. At 39 years old, Mohammad Nabi creates history as the oldest player to clinch the top spot in the ICC all-rounder category.

Afghanistan’s cricket prowess extends beyond Nabi, with other standout players making their mark in the ICC rankings. Rashid Khan, a notable figure, commands the top position in ODI bowling, ODI all-round performance, and T20I bowling categories. Mujeeb Ur Rahman has showcased his talent by securing the top spot in the T20I bowling rankings. The collective achievements of these Afghan talents underscore the nation’s growing prominence in the cricketing arena.

With this achievement, the Afghan national team, once a mere dream in a war-torn nation, has scaled unimaginable heights, defying the odds. The story of Afghan cricket is not just about runs and wickets; but a saga of unwavering spirit. Born within the Taliban conflict, the team in its early years had very limited resources and faced immense challenges. It was the passion for the game that used makeshift grounds with borrowed equipment, and honed their skills.

The turning point arrived in 2009, when Afghanistan gained ODI status, opening the doors to international competition. But facing established cricketing giants was not easy. Yet, with each defeat, the team’s resolve kept growing and strengthening.

The emergence of players like Mohammad Nabi, a versatile all-rounder, Asghar Afghan, the right handed batsman and Rashid Khan, a leg-spinner, started yielding results. His unplayable deliveries could baffle seasoned batsmen, giving Afghanistan great victories.

They qualified for their maiden ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015, announcing their arrival on the global stage. However they couldn’t progress beyond the group stage. But they did leave a lasting impression. In 2017, they achieved Test status. The years that followed witnessed a consistent rise. As of June 2023, Afghanistan has played 7 Tests with 3 victories. These achievements are a road for further success.

Today, Afghanistan cricket stands tall. Mohammad Nabi’s No.1 ranking is just the latest addition to the team’s achievement. It represents the result of years of struggle, and sacrifice

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