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EXCLUSIVE: Asghar Afghan on 2015 CWC & rise of Rashid Khan

Published at :December 7, 2023 at 8:03 PM
Modified at :January 14, 2024 at 12:15 AM
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Rutvij Joshi

In the second part of the interview Asghar Afghan opened up about 2015 CWC, his captaincy and the rise of Rashid Khan.

In the second installment of the exclusive interview with Khel Now, the former Afghanistan cricket captain, Asghar Afghan, dived into the complexity of his captaincy, reflecting on the pivotal moments during the team’s 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup campaign. Asghar provided unique insights into the challenges and triumphs that defined his leadership role, shedding light on the evolution of Afghanistan’s cricketing prowess on the global stage.

With a keen eye for detail, he walked through the highs and lows of steering the team through the intense competition of the World Cup, offering never told stories and behind-the-scenes perspectives on the strategies, team dynamics, and personal experiences that shaped Afghanistan’s journey after that  tournament.

Moreover, Asghar Afghan’s interview also touched upon the meteoric rise of Rashid Khan, one of Afghanistan’s cricketing sensations and modern cricketing greats. As the former captain shared anecdotes and observations, he unveiled the narrative behind Rashid Khan’s emergence to world cricket. 

This part of the interview provides a closer look at the genesis of Rashid Khan’s career, offering a narrative thread that weaves together individual brilliance and collective team success in the fascinating chapter of Afghanistan’s cricketing story.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Afghanistan qualified for their first ever 50 year cricket World Cup in the year 2015 which was hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Asghar Afghan narrated the experience of playing in the tournament and says, “2015 World Cup was very important for us since it was Afghanistan’s first ever World Cup.  We lost the first (second) game  against Sri Lanka. Jayawardene took the game away from us. He was a great player but we wanted to win at least one game for our country because we had defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup prior to that.

Asghar Afghan further went on and spoke about the game against Scotland where Afghanistan first tasted the victory at the grandest stage in a nail biter of a game. “In the game against Scotland, Samiullah Shinwari (96) batted well. Shapoor Zadran who hit the winning runs picked 4 wickets. It was an unbelievable moment for us. We had created history for Afghanistan.

The captaincy conundrum of Afghanistan

The victory over Scotland marked a historic moment for Afghanistan cricket, drawing global attention from the media, world politics and sports enthusiasts with the cricket’s emergence in a country marred by conflict. The Afghanistan Cricket Board began reaping financial rewards following this success. Subsequent to the 2015 World Cup, a notable shift occurred in leadership with a change in captaincy. Asghar Afghan shared the narrative behind his rise to the captaincy role.

After the 2015 World Cup, the cricket board wanted me to become the captain. However, I did not want to be. The office bearers and the coaches were pleading to me and   said I have the leadership qualities but I did not want to become captain. Then former captain Nabi called me and persuaded me to accept and then after I accepted it,” he explained.

Increase in match fees

Asghar Afghan’s first assignment as captain was the tour to Zimbabwe where they were scheduled to play an ODI and T20I series against the hosts. Asghar promised the cricket board to win both the series and qualify for the 2016 T20 World Cup in return for the increase in match fees.

I promised the cricket board that we will win the ODI and T20 series against Zimbabwe and we will qualify for the 2016 T20 World Cup. But I asked them to sign the contract to increase our T20 match fees to 500 $ and ODI match fees from  75 $ to 1000 $. I told them not to pay us until we win the series,” the former captain mentioned.

Furthermore, he went on and added, “Since the board was new and we were getting the sponsors they wholeheartedly accepted it. Thereafter, we won both that series and qualified for the 2016 T20 World Cup.

The rise of Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan is a modern day great in white ball cricket and ever since his debut against Zimbabwe as a 17-year-old he hasn’t looked back. His unconventional yet meteoric rise has been unwavering, and credit for discovering his talent goes to Asghar Afghan. Asghar Afghan not only recognized Rashid’s potential but also waged a battle with the cricket board to secure his inclusion in the series against Zimbabwe. This pivotal decision set the stage for Rashid Khan’s remarkable journey in the world of cricket. 

“Rashid’s story begins just before the Zimbabwe series when we had the camp and I asked Dawlat Ahmadzai to bring a few leg spinners as Zimbabwe had leg spinners in their team. So 4-5 kids came and Rashid was one of them. I liked him very much and I asked him if he had the passport and he said yes, so I asked him to come with his passport.“

Moreover, Asghar Afghan further went on and quoted, “I went to the selectors with his passport and they were asking why him? We have many more good players than him.Take them.  He has not played domestic cricket in his life. I reminded them that they gave me the freedom to choose players whom I wanted.

So I got Rashid a visa along with my team and I asked him to stay at Kabul and not go anywhere. We lost our first game and I told Inzamam bhai (Inzamam ul Haq), the then head coach about Rashid and he told me you know the players in a better way. I dialed the cricket and requested them to send Rashid on the next flight the next day so that he reaches Zimbabwe by evening. So in that tour I gave him chance after chance and then the world became aware of him,” he enacted the full scene.

I have always given young players a chance and in my reign as captain I gave out maximum chances to youngsters,” he affirmed.

This interview was conducted during the Legends League Cricket Ranchi Leg where Asghar Afghan donned the jersey of Urbanisers Hyderabad. Click here to to read the first part of the interview.

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