With a match against Pakistan looming at the ICC T20 World Cup, Afghanistan legspinner Rashid Khan is hoping to give the people back home something to remember.
Rashid didn’t get along well with his country’s cricket administrators after the Taliban took over and the hierarchy of the cricket board changed. He stepped down shortly after the squad for the T20 World Cup squad was announced, saying he was not consulted by the selectors while finalizing the team.
He’s back with the team and said things were getting better at home, and the match against Pakistan on Friday in Dubai will give them a chance to give their fans something to be happy about.
“As a team we are here to play good cricket and give them a kind of performance and kind of win that they could celebrate there,” said Rashid, the world’s top-ranked legspinner.
Rashid also pleaded with fans from both Afghanistan and Pakistan to avoid repeating the ugly scenes from two years ago when the teams faced each other during the Cricket World Cup in England.
Fans from both nations scuffled at Headingley inside and outside the stadium after Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by three wickets in the last over.
“This game should remain as a game and it’s a request to all the fans to stay cool and calm and just enjoy the game,” Rashid said via video conference from Dubai on Thursday. “At the end of the day, this game gives lots of unity to the nations and bring nations together … and as fans, they just need to support a good side.”
Pakistan started Group 2 with victories over India and New Zealand and is a strong contender for the semifinals. Afghanistan could be the dark horse in the group after thumping Scotland by 130 runs in its opening game.
Afghanistan’s spin trio of Rashid, Mujeeb Ur Rehman and captain Mohammad Nabi have experience playing on the slow wickets of the United Arab Emirates. While Mujeeb took a five-wicket haul against Scotland, Rashid finished off the tailenders in style with 4-9.
“We have the quality and skills in the team that we can qualify to the semifinals,” Rashid said, “and that’s the only thing at the moment in the mind of each and every player.”