Sick of winning hearts, Afghanistan win a match

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With West Indies needing 10 to win off four balls, Carlos Brathwaite whopped one high into the legside outfield. Najibullah Zadran sprinted, dived, took the catch, broke his neck or something when landing, but never let go of the ball.

Of course he didn’t let go. Why would he let go? His team-mates seemed largely unconcerned about his wellbeing because the main thing – the catching of the ball – had gone okay. They knew Zadran would be happy when he regained consciousness because Afghanistan were a sizeable step closer to beating one of the top sides in the World T20. That was the main thing. They all understood that compared to that a broken neck or a snapped arm or a lost knee was trivial.

Afghanistan are pretty talented – some of the spin bowling, in particular – but at heart there’s a lot to be said for simply enjoying the game of cricket and just really, really wanting to win.

If Afghanistan have a superpower, it’s that losing matches appears to give them strength. Bigger teams get downhearted when beaten. Afghanistan are still on the rise, so they sort of expect to lose and shrug it off in an instant, but then at the same time assume the defeat will make them better come their next match. At that point, they give it everything.

They look casual and the physiques of some of the players have that distinctive part-time cricketer look often seen in players from the less-established nations, but their commitment to their cause is at a level you can only attain when you’re grasping for every advantage you can get.

At one point, Mohammad Shahzad and one of his team-mates celebrated a wicket with some sort of airborne arse-bump. At another point, he threw down the stumps as if they’d assaulted his daughter.

Afghanistan really, really want it and they really, really enjoy it. They’re really, really fun to watch.

After the match, Mohammad Nabi said: “I think so we have had enough of winning the hearts of cricket fans so this time we won the match.”


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  1. Thank you for articulating Shahzad’s celebration as “some sort of airborne arse-bump”.

    Daisy was out of the room at the time. I described it to her in tennis terms – “a bit like a Bryan brothers celebration, only arse to arse rather than chest to chest”. Daisy thought I was exaggerating until she saw the replay.

    Shahzad reminds me a bit of Dwayne Leverock. Perhaps his Mini-Me. Mercifully, all those years ago, we were all spared the indignity of watching Dwayne Leverock do the arse-bump. We merely got this:

    Indeed, anyone who arse-bumped with Leverock would have doubtlessly been Najibullahed in the process.

  2. He said the same thing you just did in the title! This can only mean he reads this website regularly, clinging on to your every word.

    1. He’s a friend of a friend, actually.

      Maybe more an acquaintance of a friend. We’ll check on that and get back to you.

      1. Have you checked on it yet? I am still waiting. These things are important to clear up as soon as possible.

        PS: I didn’t say asap, which shows I still have some patience left.

      2. You have shown remarkable patience given the circumstances, Deep Cower – well done you.

        Frankly, the service around here has recently fallen way below the standards we have come to know and expect from the KCC.

        Given the hugely remunerative nature of his enterprise, one might have expected KC by now to have employed some young researchers and/or interns to research such important and relevant matters.

      3. It’s now been close to a day, and no word yet from upstairs. To complicate matters, Nabi has tweeted a picture of himself with KP. Now we all know KC attends these fancy parties thrown by megamillionaires and the cricketing friends (, so it is entirely possible that KP’s the friend whose acquaintance (or friend) is the said tweeter.

  3. am I the only one who isn’t in awe of their somewhat manufactured aura?

    celebration of sub-mediocrity is a very english trait – I should know as I am english. All I’m seeing from Afghanistan is unbecoming arrogance from losing 3 games against fully fledged nations and only sneaking a win when the ship had sailed.

    Shahzad’s arrogance in the press conference regarding Steyn was all the more hilarous, he is right about Steyn not being potent in T20’s but who is he to insult Steyn? Assessing his credentials, I see an overweight opening bat who has failed in 3/4 of his knocks this tournament and averages under 30 against associates, tells a tale

    I just don’t buy into the afghanistan wanting to win more than any other team facade.

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