A poignant moment for Afghan diaspora

A poignant moment for Afghan diaspora

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai. DH photo

The presence of the high-profile government representatives from both India and Afghanistan underlined the importance of the event. The most poignant moment, though, arrived when India’s former flamboyant all-rounder Salim Durani presented a memento to Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai. There was more than a symbolic importance attached to the gesture.

Durani, who hit sixes on demand during his heydays, was born in Kabul -- the Afghanistan capital -- and it lent a great meaning to the occasion. While a large Afghan population witnessed their country’s Test debut on TV, about a few dozen of them, mostly students in India, made it to the City to watch their team make history.

There was excitement and a sense of pride when their national anthem was played just before the start. It was a moment they had been waiting for – some had stayed back even though it was a holiday for them while others had requested for more money from their parents so that they can travel to Bengaluru to watch the match. Afghanistan didn’t have a great day on the field on the opening day, but the bigger picture wasn’t lost on them.

“I completely teared up when I heard the national anthem; it is difficult to explain the feeling of watching your national team in whites,” said the 22-year-old Anees Haleem, who is doing his final year BA at the Osmania University in Hyderabad.

“It is such a blessed moment for all Afghans here and back home. Our team has played international cricket in other formats, but Test cricket is the real cricket. We grew up watching other countries play Test cricket, to see our team now in whites is a special feeling,” remarked the youngster from Nagahan in Afghanistan.

Not surprisingly, Rashid Khan is his favourite player who though endured a tough time against Indian batsmen.

Another Hyderabad-based student, Rahimulla from Khost, was happy his parents had sent him extra money to make the trip to the city. “We knew we had to watch this match, so we asked our families to send us extra money to travel to Bengaluru and they obliged.”

Suliman from Kabul is doing his BSc at the Brindavan College in Bengaluru and he isn’t bothered about how Afghanistan perform in the match. For him, Afghanistan cricket team is the only hope and the sole positive distraction amidst all the daily trouble they have to endure back home.  

“It is a big achievement for us as a nation,” he says proudly. “The result here does not matter, what matters is the fact our team has made it till here. We are very proud of the team. Back home people are celebrating the historic moment. Given the trouble back home — there was a terror attack yesterday as well — cricket is one thing that brings a smile on our faces. Our holidays started earlier this month, but we chose to stay back and watch our team make history. We can now proudly say, ‘we witnessed our team make Test debut’.”