The New York Times – Though the attack was shocking, cricket and conflict have long been connected in Afghanistan: It was the war with the Soviet Union that forced Afghans into the Pakistani refugee camps where they were introduced to the game.
- When I visited Afghanistan in late 2014, Mohammad Nabi, then the national team’s captain, showed me a clip on his phone: People hung from billboards lining the Kabul International Stadium to watch a domestic match, the ground overflowing.
- In 1995, practically no one in Afghanistan knew what cricket was; by 2015, the national team was at the World Cup.
- In 20 years the country’s cricketers had achieved what other teams take 50 years to do — and in the process they became the darlings of world cricket.
- A fast bowler wore war paint, another let his long hair bounce as he ran in to bowl, their batsmen hit with abandon, they argued animatedly with one another on the field, and when they celebrated, the world celebrated with them.
- And yet, in 2017, Shapoor Zadran, the tall left-arm fast bowler who hit the winning runs in their first-ever World Cup victory, was attacked by terrorists, and not for the first time.