Afghanistan beat Scotland in a match played in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates – the first major victory for the team since the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
While the Taliban wrinkle their noses at many forms of public entertainment, cricket has always been an exception, a match that was closely followed, even during the war, whenever the national team played.
“Congratulations to the team and wish them more success in the future,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.
A spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office also praised, adding: “We hope for similar and even higher results in other areas, especially in the political, economic and scientific fields.”
The highest profile message came from Anas Haqqani, little brother of Afghanistan’s current acting interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani – the leader of the Haqqani network.
“Afghanistan won,” the younger Haqqani said.
The Taliban’s designated UN representative Suhail Shaheen tweeted: “Well done boys!”
Congratulations to all Afghan cricket teams and the entire Afghan nation on their historic victory over Scotland. Now … https://t.co/DHuolikZZa
– Suhail Shaheen. محمد سهیل شاهین (@ suhailshaheen1) 1635184278000
However, there was relative silence throughout Kabul, where such victories were previously met with cheers in the streets, fireworks and festive volley. There were only a few small fireworks seen in the Kabul sky.
The streets were mostly empty or quiet.
The enemies of the Taliban also saw the victory as significant to the country. Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president who became one of the leaders of the anti-Taliban forces after the fall of Kabul, pointed out on Twitter that the cricket team had sung a national anthem and raised a flag that is not recognized by the Taliban. .
I pay tribute to the courage of our cricket heroes and their devotion to our national values. They sang the national anthem and … https://t.co/fSDABzbNTJ
– Amrullah Saleh (@ AmrullahSaleh2) 1635175314000
President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country in August, said the victory had “installed new hopes in the hearts of all that this nation is alive and no one can hold it hostage!”
Despite years of violence and upheaval, Afghanistan has an enthusiastic and widespread support for cricket, and the people of Kabul eagerly awaited the World Cup cricket matches.
The ruling International Cricket Council (ICC) will meet next month to determine the future of the game in Afghanistan under Taliban rule