Shenwari celebrates Afghanistan's 1st Cricket World Cup win
Feb. 26, 2015
DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — Samiullah Shenwari batted Afghanistan to a historic one-wicket win over Scotland at the Cricket World Cup on Thursday — his nation's first World Cup victory. And he hopes it bodes well for the future of the fledgling sport in his homeland.
Shenwari's 96 was the highest score by an Afghani batsman in a World Cup match and, in a series of minor partnerships at the end of the innings, he batted Afghanistan to victory in its third World Cup match.
"We won with one wicket or 10 wickets, it's still a win," Shenwari said.
But in a moment of such huge significance for Afghanistan cricket, there is so much more to do.
After years of civil war in Afghanistan, little sporting infrastructure remains. Security can't always be guaranteed and basic services are scarce.
To find a piece of open ground on which to play cricket is difficult in many parts of the country, yet Shenwari believes Thursday's win will only feed a growing love of the sport among Afghani youths.
Some players on the Afghanistan team learned to play cricket in Pakistan refugee camps during an enforced exile from their homeland.
Shenwari, who has played on the team for six years, says young Afghans will now see cricket as a way to rise above the trials of daily life.
"I think there was nothing before," Shenwari said. "You can look 10 or eight years ago, there was nothing in Afghanistan. But now you can see the streets, school, everything you go, it's just cricket and cricket, so maybe in next 10 years maybe we can do (more)."
Afghanistan next plays Australia in Pool A, a monumental task for a small nation, and yet, Shenwari said, the country's cricketers feel no apprehension.
"We're looking forward to the next match with Australia, and hopefully, hopefully we'll give them a tough time and we will not give up easy," he said.