Sport has seen an abundance of great underdog stories in the last couple of years and one such story has been the rise of Afghanistan cricket. Despite struggling everyday to cope up with life, Afghanistan is one nation in world cricket that has improved a lot in recent past and are capable of pulling off huge upsets on their day. However, nobody had even the faintest of ideas about the existence of Afghanistan cricket 10 years ago. While their staggering rise is mostly contributed to Rashid Khan’s magical spin bowling, Mohammad Nabi is one player responsible for Afghanistan playing international cricket. He played a huge role in getting his country promoted from the Division five of the World Cricket League to their ODI status. The journey of Mohammad Nabi symbolizes the meteoric rise of Afghanistan cricket. A cornerstone in the team, he is their most experienced cricketer and has literally seen Afghan cricket take baby steps to finally getting Test status.
Nabi can bowl his full quota of ten overs giving very little away, and has the ability to pick some crucial breakthroughs. He is also a capable lower middle-order batsman. Interestingly, in 2018, this grand old man of Afghanistan cricket was the first Afghan to play his 100th ODI, and the same match was also the 100th ODI played by Afghanistan Cricket team. He is also the first bowler for Afghanistan to take 100 wickets in ODIs and joint holds the record with Shafiqullah Shinwari for the fastest fifty in ODIs by an Afghan player in 28 balls . The former Afghanistan captain plays regularly in the top cricket leagues in the world including the IPL, the BBL and the Vitality Blast. So far, he has scored 4131 runs and taken 207 wickets for Afghanistan in international cricket. He was also the leading wicket taker for Afghanistan in the 2019 World Cup.
In 1995, Nabi’s family fleed Afghanistan for Peshawar from the Soviet-Afghan war and he picked up a cricket bat in a refugee camp at the age of 10. He and his family moved back to Afghanistan in 2000, unsure of their future. “In 1996, he heard about a cricket team in Afghanistan during a Taliban tournament.” That gave him hope. In Kabul, Nabi got in touch with Mohammad Shahzad, Asghar Stanikzai and Shapoor Zadran – a group which eventually formed the core of Afghanistan cricket. Nabi started his cricket career in Afghanistan. Since then, this torch bearer of Afghanistan cricket has taken his country’s cricket to unprecedented heights. This living legend may not be around when Afghanistan realise their full potential with more experience in international cricket, however his contribution to Afghan cricket will always be unparalleled and will be remembered as a proud servants of Afghanistan cricket.
by Paramdeep Rathee