T20 World Cup: Win or lose, Afghans cheer on their cricket heroes | Cricket News

KABUL: Afghanistan’s new Taliban government has been very clear with cricket fans ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated clash with its Pakistani neighbors.
Celebrate the national team by all means, said the Interior Ministry spokesman, but: “If you win, you shouldn’t shoot in the air.”
“If you shoot in the air you will be severely punished,” Qari Sayed Khosti tweeted.

In the end, despite a decent Afghan hitting performance, Pakistan won by five wickets.
And there was no sign of guns or shooting at Habibullah Zazai Park, a hilltop entertainment venue on the outskirts of eastern Kabul.
There, with the thousand fans who gathered to watch the T20 World Cup match broadcast from Dubai on the big screen, the mood was jubilant – and realistic.
Under an illuminated Ferris wheel, they cheered as skipper Mohammad Nabi and impressive versatile hitting partnership Gulbadin Naib gave Afghanistan 147 for six.
During the day, the 90-acre landscaped park, with its food stalls, “9D” cinema and children’s rides, is a haven of peace for families, far from the Afghan crises.
On Friday night, an all-male crowd braved a cold night to roar in their squad.

“You know the situation in Afghanistan, it’s very depressing,” admitted Abdul Wahab, 25, who runs a medical center in Kabul.
“The only excuse to forget everything is cricket.”
The Afghanistan World Cup opener last week was a fairly easy loss for Scotland, but Pakistan’s game had a special resonance.
Many Afghans learned their love of the game in Pakistani refugee camps during decades of war in their homeland.
Now they are delighted to be competing at the highest level with the cricket powerhouse next door.
“For me Afghanistan is the best because they are new to cricket,” Wahab told AFP as fans applauded another limit from their batsmen.
“We have been playing for 10 to 15 years, Pakistan for over 100. They have more experience in cricket, even playing them is a pride for us.”

Under the previous Afghan Taliban government between 1996 and 2001, many forms of entertainment were banned, such as music, but not men’s cricket.
And now that the Islamist movement is back, after taking Kabul from the former US-backed government in August, they still support it.
Park director Abdullah Ghafar Hatifya told AFP the new government has taken a hands-off approach and Afghans from all walks of life are welcome.
One possible source of tension is the use by fans of the Afghan national flag – a black, red and green tricolor – instead of the white Taliban banner.
But, whatever the future plans of the new government, all the fans agree, as one of them told AFP: “This is our national flag … they have no no right to intervene “.

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