These days, Afghanistan cricket team is enjoying the victory after causing major upsets in the ongoing World Cup tournament in India. After the Indian team, the team which is getting the most love from the fans is Afghanistan.
Afghanistan team first created a big upset by defeating defending champion England and then created history by defeating Pakistan. But on Monday, when the Afghan team easily defeated Sri Lanka by seven wickets, world analysts called it a victory for Afghanistan. Now this cannot be called a 'reversal'. Rather, it can be said that this team has emerged as a permanent force on the horizon of cricket.
If cricket fans in India are supporting any team after their home team, it is Afghanistan. This love is not limited only to the fans, but famous players and commentators like Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh were also seen dancing in joy of the victory of the Afghanistan team. Afghans and Afghan team members are praising Indians on social media and thanking them for their support.
In such a situation, the question arises that why is Afghanistan's cricket team being liked so much in India, Even India is being called the second home of this team.
We asked this question to Canadian sports journalist Moinuddin Hameed. Hameed has written a book on Pakistani cricketer and former captain Salim Malik and keeps a keen eye on cricket.
Moinuddin Hameed, during a phone conversation with BBC Urdu, said that there are historical and political reasons behind this. Although Afghanistan and India are neighboring countries that share borders, there are historical ties between the two. India is liked more in Afghanistan than Pakistan and now the situation is the same in India also.
He said that Pakistan has helped Afghanistan at every opportunity and has given shelter to millions of its refugees. Pakistan has also played an important role in preparing the Afghanistan cricket team, but the people of Pakistan do not know this. When it comes to India-Pakistan, the people of Afghanistan are traditionally seen supporting India.
He said, If we talk about sports, Pakistani players have taught us how to hold the bat. Many Pakistani cricketers like Kabir Khan, Rashid Latif, Inzamam Ul-Haq, Umar Gul took an active part in their (Afghan team) training. They Used to go there and give them coaching.
Rashid Latif and Inzamam do not speak Pashto, but the other players from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were training them in their language. Some Afghan players like Rashid Khan were born in Afghanistan, but when they came to Pakistan to seek refuge, they learned cricket here and also did their school and college studies in Pakistan. Moinuddin says that Rashid Khan's inclination towards India instead of Pakistan is beyond understanding.
After the deployment of American forces in Afghanistan, India invested billions of dollars in development works there. Taliban returned to Afghanistan in mid-2021. Since then, India itself has given shelter to the Afghan cricket team. Many experts see India as the 'second home' of the Afghan cricket team.
Sports journalist Aadesh Kumar, who has a deep knowledge of cricket, while talking to BBC on phone, said that there is no doubt that Pakistani players made the Afghanistan team. But when their support ended, India trained players from Afghanistan. BCCI gave him training in Noida and Dehradun near Delhi.
He said that the old relations between the two countries are also important in this matter. Now that India's matches against Pakistan are limited to ICC tournaments only, the Afghanistan team has gained importance in India.
Due to political reasons, there are no Pakistani players in the Indian Premier League i.e. IPL, whereas Afghan players are seen here. Because of this, there is a kind of connect with them among the new cricket fans. But from the performance shown by the Afghanistan cricket team in the current World Cup, it seems that now more Afghan players will be seen in the IPL.
Indian company Amul sponsors the Afghanistan team with the help of BCCI. Currently, their team is being mentored by Indian cricketer Ajay Jadeja and it is very important for the Indians to see him with the Afghan team.
There is a lot of discussion on social media about the inclination of the Afghanistan team towards India and the love they are getting here. An X user named Arfa Firoz Zaki wrote, "Afghanistan players learned cricket in Pakistan but the surprising thing is that they always called India their second home. Afghans have always supported India against Pakistan.
Another user named TheCapulai writes, "I know BCCI is guilty of many things, but they deserve credit for their unwavering support towards the Afghan cricket team by giving them a stadium to host international matches. , To provide them facilities and coaching when they did not have any training facilities.
BCCI contributed to the development of Afghan cricket. Their rapid progress in the world of cricket today is a matter of happiness for all of us. But if BCCI was not there, their journey would have been a little more difficult.
A user named Anupama Singh wrote, This is absolutely true and the support the Afghanistan team has received in India is at a different level and all the players are grateful for it. We want to see them grow by leaps and bounds.
However, while the players and fans of Afghanistan are praising Irfan Pathan's celebration and dance, the fans of Pakistan are not happy with him. A user named Fazal Afghan wrote, "Neighbors wanted to dance on our defeat but our brothers are dancing on our victory. Their dreams remained only dreams. Thanks to Irfan Bhai and all Indian friends."
Looking at the tweets of social media users of Afghanistan, it is clear that they consider Pakistan as their rival and all their competition is with the neighboring country Pakistan. Journalist Moinuddin Hameed said that Afghanistan's fans supporting India is beyond his understanding.
He said, Afghanistan shares its border with Pakistan and Pakistan also provides them passage, hence their trade runs because they do not even have a port. Muhammad Mazharul Haq, professor of Persian at JNU and an expert on Afghan affairs, told the BBC some time ago, "India's trade with Afghanistan is greater than ever."
He said that after Taliban came to power, diplomatic relations are not visible between India and Afghanistan, but India's presence there in the form of technical cooperation is very strong.
India has started several projects in Afghanistan and has invested about three billion US dollars.