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A Hard Grind – Afghanistan’s First Hour In Test Cricket

16 Jun 2018 Tolo News

The bright red caps dotting the field made for a sharp contrast with the Test whites and the lush green of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium outfield in Bangalore of Indian on Tuesday morning as Afghanistan started its first ever Test.

The Chinnaswamy Stadium was a hive of activity as officials from India and Afghanistan welcomed the newest Test nationred-ball cricket, the ICC reported.

In their first hour in Test cricket, against India in Bengaluru on Thursday, 14 June, they were as spirited as ever.

Their pacers got the ball to move, there were oohs and aahs that accompanied some narrow misses, there were good appeals. Their fielders were busy, Mohammad Shahzad was effervescent. But it was also a reminder that nothing would come easy at this level.

The centre was a hive of activity even before the first ball was bowled. The red carpet was rolled out for a stream of dignitaries.

Salim Durani, 83, the former India all-rounder who was born in Afghanistan, was the special guest for the day.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah was welcomed by India’s Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, also India’s first individual silver medal winner at the Olympics, who, between speeches, couldn’t resist having a swing with Shikhar Dhawan’s bat. The leaders of both countries had sent their messages of support.

“I am very proud to be at Bengaluru for @ACBofficials historic inaugural test match against @BCCI June 14-18 2018. Afghanistan is making history with playing the maiden test today. Thanks to @BCCI for hosting @ACBofficials for this first test,” Abdullah tweeted.

The ICC’s CEO David Richardson presented Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai with a memento, as did the Board of Control for Cricket in India at the toss.

But the most cherished keepsakes of the day will be those red caps. Looking sharp in deep blue blazers over their Test whites, the team and the support staff, lined up for the fruition of a dream.

Along with the caps they’d wear on the field, they were presented commemorative ones. And then, having lost the toss and been asked to bowl, it was time to take the field.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called cricket the “unifying force” in Afghanistan.

“These achievements have come about in challenging and difficult circumstances. This demonstrates the indomitable Afghan spirit to overcome all challenges and realize aspirations for a prosperous, stable, united and peaceful nation. Today cricket is a unifying force for the people of Afghanistan.”

“India takes pride in being shoulder-to-shoulder with Afghanistan in this journey. It is an honour for India to host the Afghan national team at home grounds in Greater Noida and Dehradun. The people of India have shared the joy of millions of Afghans at the success of their players in tournaments and elsewhere.” 

India has played a significant role in promoting cricket in Afghanistan since 2001 when the conflict-ridden country joined the ICC (International Cricket Council). 

Owing to terror strikes and security conditions in the country, Greater Noida has been its homeground since 2015 for the Afghan cricket team, which had been trained by Indian coaches in their formative years. 

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