Thousands of ecstatic fans turned out and packed buses, trucks and cars to overflowing. Many thousands more lined the streets. An estimated crowd of 10,000 fans packed the Kabul Cricket Stadium for the official celebration with speeches and entertainment.
Mohammad Ayoubi said he and his friends had travelled all day from Khost Province in the east in order to be a part of the celebration, “We would have travelled 10 times the distance just to see this wonderful sight.” Other dedicated cricket fans travelled from Jalalabad in the east and Mazar-e-Sharif in the north. Other fans had risked dangerous roads to come from Kandahar and Paktia in the south.
“Afghanistan zindabad” (long live Afghanistan) echoed through the streets even from police vehicle’s loud hailers, usually used for giving loud traffic directions to drivers who rarely heed them.
Team captain, Mohmmad Nabi, said, “I have never felt happiness like this ever before in my life. I feel very proud; proud for our team, proud for our supporters and proud for our whole country. I am so glad that this is something that gives our whole country something to celebrate, something to make us happy together.”
“The recent football victory and this one for cricket are a sign of the determination of Afghan people, especially the young people,” Dr Noor Mohammad Murad, the CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board said. “We are seeing cricket and football bringing Afghanistan together in a way that is completely new and unique.
“Tonight’s huge and wonderful welcome for our national cricket team,” he said, “shows so much hope for the future. These tens of thousands of people do not want war or violence, they want unity peace and development for our country. Our cricket players and all of their supporters across the country are leading the way to a better future for everyone.“