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'Give Them Indian Citizenship': Fate of Afghan Cricketers Alarms Fans After Taliban Takeover

Members of Afghanistan cricket team stand for their national anthem before the start of the one-off test match against India in Bangalore, India, Thursday, June 14, 2018
© AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has come as a huge setback to the cricketing ambitions of Rashid Khan and his men, as the team now faces an uncertain future.

A day after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan's capital Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, debate about the fate of the nation's cricketers erupted on Twitter.

Afghanistan cricket team fans have requested India to intervene, asking the Narendra Modi government to airlift the cricketers from the war-torn country before granting them Indian citizenship. A few others said that they were praying for them as they were experiencing an unprecedented situation in their lives.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, ex-England skipper Kevin Pietersen revealed that Afghanistan's star bowler Rashid Khan was extremely worried about the prevailing situation in the nation as he was unable to get his family out of Kabul.

The 22-year-old is currently participating in the first edition of The Hundred, a unique 10-ball-a-side tournament, where he is representing the Trent Rockets, a franchise based in the English city of Nottingham.

"There's a lot of things that are happening at home. We had a long chat here on the boundary talking about it and he's worried: he can't get his family out of Afghanistan and there's a lot of things happening for him", Pietersen told British broadcaster Sky Sports.
"For him to turn up and put on a performance like this under the pressure that he is currently under... for him to be able to forget that stuff and navigate his story and continue the momentum that he has - I think that's probably one of the most heart-warming stories of this Hundred so far", he added.

Moreover, despite various media reports raising questions of uncertainty about their future, the team's media manager Hikmat Hassan confirmed that Rashid and his teammates will participate in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"Yes, we will play in the T20 World Cup", Hassan told Indian media on Monday. "The preparations are on and the available players will be back to training in Kabul in the next few days".
"We are looking for a venue for the tri-series involving Australia and West Indies and that will be the best preparation for the showpiece event. We are speaking to some countries like Sri Lanka and also I think Malaysia. Let’s see how that pans out", he said.

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