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Afghanistan Makes History in Cricket World Cup, Despite Debut Loss to Bangladesh

Image from the Bangladesh Afghanistan Match from Manuka, Oval. Image By Rezwan

Image from the Bangladesh-Afghanistan match from Manuka, Oval. Image By Rezwan

February 18 was a historic day for Afghanistan, as its national cricket team took on Bangladesh at Manuka Oval Stadium in Canberra, Australia, for the country's first ever game in a Cricket World Cup.

Even though Bangladesh showed off its experience and talent, beating Afghanistan by 105 runs in a quite one-sided game, it was clear the country had come a long way. Afghanistan learned the game from neighbouring Pakistan, where countless Afghans fled following the 1979 Soviet invasion of their homeland, and cricket is now the most popular game there.

Bangladesh is also comparatively new to the World Cup. It played its first World Cup game in 1999.

Ahead of the game Afghanistan was pumped up from its victory over Bangladesh at the last Asia Cup in 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. However, the conditions in Australia were much different. The pitch at Manuka Oval offered more by way of pace and bounce than that Asia Cup surface.

Huge Crowd queueing up for the Bangladesh Afghanistan match on Feb 18, 2015. Image by Rezwan

Huge crowd queueing up for the Bangladesh-Afghanistan match on Feb. 18, 2015. Image by Rezwan

Despite the loss, Afghanistan thrilled its supporters as its bowlers kept up the pressure on Bangladeshi batsmen in the first 25 overs with a low run rate and took four wickets. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim combined for a 114-run 5th wicket partnership and Bangladesh posted a total of 267. Afghanistan was not up to par in reply as it was reduced to three wickets with only three runs in the first three overs. The team never quite recovered and was all out for 162 runs in 42.5 overs.

Canberra is home to a small population of Bangladeshis maybe 7,000 to 8,000 strong. However, many Bangladeshis from Sydney and Melbourne came to the Australian capital to watch the game. The official match crowd was 10,972, out of which Bangladeshis were more than 9,000, transforming the stadium into a little Bangladesh.

Here are some pictures from the crowd:

Bangladeshi supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Bangladeshi supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Afghan Supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Afghan Supporters. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Bangladeshi supporters wore the green and red team jerseys which bore the colors of the Bangladeshi flag. Image by Rezwan

Bangladeshi supporters wore the green-and-red team jerseys, the same colors as the Bangladeshi flag. Image by Rezwan

Afghani supporters were also colourful. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Afghani supporters were also colourful. Image by Rezwan (18/2/2015)

Twitter hashtags #cwc15 and #BanvsAfg were trending on that day as many were talking about the game.

A tweet by the US Embassy in Kabul declaring victory for Afghanistan before the end of the game generated a lot of buzz. It was retweeted more than 300 times and favourited more than 100 times:

The embassy acknowledged their “premature posting” in another tweet, but maintained their excitement about Afghanistan's participation at the World Cup.

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