When MS Dhoni Asked an Afghanistan Player to Lose 20 Kgs for an IPL Contract
In the world of cricket, there are moments that become etched in our memories forever. One such moment occurred during the 2018 Asia Cup when Afghanistan faced off against India in a thrilling match that ended in a tie. This match not only showcased the talent and determination of the Afghan team but also led to a lighthearted interaction between former Indian captain, MS Dhoni, and an Afghan player. Let’s delve into the story behind this memorable incident and explore the rise of Afghanistan cricket.
The Unforgettable Tied Match
The 2018 Asia Cup match between Afghanistan and India was a nail-biting encounter that had fans on the edge of their seats. With India needing just one run to win and Afghanistan requiring one more wicket to seal the victory, the tension was palpable. Mohammad Asghar Afghan, the former captain of Afghanistan, vividly remembers this match as one of the best moments of his career. The tie result showcased the immense potential of the Afghan team and hinted at the bright future that awaited them in the world of cricket.
The Interaction with MS Dhoni
Following the tied match, Asghar Afghan had the opportunity to engage in a conversation with MS Dhoni, the legendary former captain of the Indian cricket team. Asghar, in an interview with The Times of India, recalled their discussion and shared a lighthearted anecdote involving an Afghan player, Mohammad Shahzad, who was a huge fan of Dhoni. Asghar informed Dhoni about Shahzad’s admiration, to which the former Indian captain jokingly responded that if Shahzad managed to shed 20 kilograms, he would consider selecting him for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Rise of Afghanistan Cricket
Afghanistan’s journey in international cricket has been nothing short of remarkable. From being considered underdogs to shedding their ‘minnows’ tag, the Afghan team has made significant strides in the cricketing world. One of the key factors behind their rise is the support they received from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The BCCI played a pivotal role in the development of Afghanistan cricket, offering them a home ground and providing continuous support since 2014.
The Impact of IPL on Afghan Cricketers
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a game-changer for many cricketers around the world. It has not only provided a platform for showcasing their skills but has also helped in their overall growth and development. Two prominent examples from Afghanistan are Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Their participation in the IPL significantly polished their talents and elevated their game to new heights.
Rashid Khan, known for his exceptional skills as a leg-spinner, has mesmerized cricket enthusiasts with his variations and ability to bowl six different deliveries in six balls. Asghar Afghan, who played alongside Rashid for seven years, witnessed his growth firsthand and considers him a special talent. If Asghar were a selector, he would have made Rashid the captain in all formats. Rashid’s success in the IPL has played a significant role in establishing him as one of the best cricketers in the world.
Similarly, Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s journey was transformed after his participation in the IPL. The experience and exposure he gained during the tournament honed his skills and prepared him for the international stage. The IPL served as a catalyst for his growth, enabling him to become an excellent bowler and contribute significantly to the Afghan team’s success.
Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Success
Afghanistan’s journey in cricket has not been without its fair share of challenges. Asghar Afghan, during his captaincy from 2015 to 2021, faced numerous obstacles while leading a team in a rebuilding phase. Financial constraints were a major hurdle for the Afghan team, with players receiving meager match fees. However, Asghar’s determination and strategic planning paved the way for Afghanistan’s success.
Despite the odds stacked against them, Asghar rallied his team and set ambitious goals. He negotiated with the cricket board, demanding an increase in match fees and an opportunity to prove themselves against Zimbabwe. To everyone’s surprise, Afghanistan not only won the series against Zimbabwe but also qualified for the ICC World Cup 2015. This achievement marked a turning point for Afghan cricket and propelled them towards greater heights.
The Role of BCCI in Afghanistan Cricket
The support and assistance provided by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been crucial in shaping Afghanistan cricket. The BCCI’s backing has extended beyond financial aid and has included granting the Afghan team a home ground. This gesture not only provided a sense of stability but also nurtured a love for the sport within the country.
Asghar Afghan acknowledges the significant role played by the BCCI in Afghanistan’s cricketing journey. He expresses his gratitude and urges other cricket boards, such as England, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, to come forward and support Afghanistan cricket. The collective effort from various cricketing nations can further strengthen Afghanistan’s presence in the international cricketing arena.
Afghanistan’s Rise in World Cricket
Afghanistan’s impressive performance in the 2023 ODI World Cup showcased their emergence as a force to be reckoned with in international cricket. Led by Hashmatullah Shahidi, the Afghan team registered victories against formidable opponents, including former ODI champions England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Their exceptional display earned them the sixth position in the tournament, securing their participation in the prestigious ICC Champions Trophy.
The rise of Afghanistan cricket is a testament to the resilience and determination of the players, as well as the unwavering support from cricketing authorities. With a pool of talented cricketers and a growing fan base, Afghanistan is poised to make a significant impact on the global cricketing stage in the years to come.
The incident where MS Dhoni jokingly asked an Afghanistan player to lose 20 kgs for an IPL contract highlights the camaraderie shared between players from different nations. It exemplifies the lighthearted moments that occur even in the heat of competitive cricket. Moreover, it underscores the impact of the IPL in transforming the careers of talented cricketers like Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Afghanistan’s journey from being considered underdogs to shedding the ‘minnows’ tag is a testament to their determination and the support they received from the BCCI. The rise of Afghanistan cricket is a story of overcoming challenges, setting ambitious goals, and achieving success against all odds. With the continued support of cricketing authorities and the unwavering passion of Afghan cricketers, the future looks bright for Afghanistan cricket on the global stage.