Afghanistan Destroys the United States … in Cricket

By Sadie Bass

Feb 11, 2010 10:17am

ABC's Nick Schifrin reports from Islamabad: Interesting story today out of Dubai, where the out-of-nowhere Afghan cricket team continues to impress, easily beating the lowly American side in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup in Twenty20 — a form of cricket that lasts as long as a baseball game. Think seventh inning stretch instead of tea breaks. Afghanistan’s first ever nationally recognized cricket team has been a source of pride in a blood-soaked country since it was born shortly after the Taliban were overthrown. Most of the players are Pashtun — the same majority ethnic group from which the Taliban come — and trained themselves to play on barren dirt and concrete fields outside of Peshawar, Pakistan, near their refugee camps. Their families had been displaced by the Russians, then by the civil war and finally by the Taliban — but exactly 30 years after the Russians invaded, a team of young talents came within one match of qualifying for the Cricket World Cup (the version with longer matches). It was an amazing feat for a first-time qualifying team, let alone one from a country that has suffered from so much violence. "I asked the boys how they feel about it: 'It's not war, just sport', they said,” coach Kabir Khan told the Independent newspaper when asked about playing against the United States. "These players have a real hunger for the game. Throughout their lives they have seen real lows and a lot of hard times during the war and afterwards. They want to prove to the world that there is more to Afghanistan than war." Next up for the Afghan side: the next step toward qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup.  Next up for the American side: hoping to get a little help to advance to the next round.

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