Afghans mark cricket win quietly at home, with music abroad

March 27, 2023 GMT

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Afghans on Monday celebrated their national cricket team’s landmark victory over Pakistan, although fan festivities were more muted back home because of the ruling Taliban restrictions on music.

On Sunday, Afghanistan won its first series against neighboring Pakistan, a top-six ranked International Cricket Council team, for the first time since the war-torn country’s world cricket debut in 2009. It beat Pakistan to take a 2-0 lead in a three-match series in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board said in a tweet Monday that the team put on an “incredible show” to clinch a historic series win. The team defeated Pakistan by seven wickets. “History made by Afghan champions,” said the board.

Some social media posts showed Afghans dancing a national dance without music on the streets of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Outside Afghanistan, music accompanied the celebrations — as did the three-colored flag of the former, U.S.-backed government which many fans carried on their shoulders.

Mullah Abdul Kabir, from the office of the Afghan Taliban prime minister, offered congratulations and said the Taliban government stands by its athletes and is committed to help them train and improve. “We wish more success for the cricket heroes and pray for them,” he said.

The Taliban army chief, Fasihuddin Fitrat Badakhshani, also congratulated the team.

One of the players, Najib Zadran, described their win as a ”“significant and historic achievement.”

Afghan cricket officials earlier this year slammed Australia’s decision to cancel their men’s one-day international cricket series because of Taliban restrictions on women’s rights. The national cricket board said it was “extremely disappointed and saddened” by the ban.

Since their takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures, including banning girls from education beyond the sixth grade and women from public life and work. The Taliban also barred women from gyms and parks.

In November 2021, the International Cricket Council formed a working group to support and review women’s and men’s cricket in Afghanistan. But the country remains the only ICC member without a fully operational women’s team.