The journey of every Afghanistan player has war and/or poverty in it somewhere. Shapoor Zadran is no exception. The bulky fast bowler, who is leading the Afghanistan pace attack from the front, reminisced the time when an assassination was attempted on him.
Zadran stated that he is now only fearful of the Lord Almighty while also asserting that he can’t be scared of these incidents as it happens quite frequently.
“Now I fear no one else other than Allah. I and my family have gone through to overcome poverty. I can't afford to be scared because of these attacks on me. I am proud to be playing for Afghanistan.”
He continued by picking out the stark differences from the time he started to now, coming through not only poverty but the danger of losing his life due to terror attacks.
"Me, Nabi, Asghar and Shahzad used to play eating chips because a packet of chips was available for only Rs 10. Now we get salaries and allowances. Now playing cricket is much easier for youngsters," the nearly 31-year-old told TOI.
"I was 19 when we started playing. We were very tense when we first started playing cricket seriously because the situation in Afghanistan wasn't good. We could only play in Kabul because it was the only secure place. It was a very small ground. We feared we will be beaten up because we fought poverty. Now things are a lot better."
Currently, Afghanistan are an uprising nation in cricket, thanks to the rise of the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran. Shapoor Zadran also took the opportunity to praise the youngsters, claiming that he is in “awe” of their abilities.
"Afghanistan cricket has passed the stage of struggle because the juniors have come up the ranks. Rashid and Mujeeb have been amazing," he says, adding: "These boys play IPL at the age of 16-17. Even I am in awe that these boys play such a high level of cricket. They take on the likes of de Villiers and Kohli.
I am proud of these boys when they trouble big batsmen. I heard MS Dhoni talking about Mujeeb's mental strength. That is awe-inspiring."
"Cricket wasn't as popular. Now the youngsters play with a lot of enthusiasm because the juniors in the team are playing IPL at 16. Now there is only cricket. Football is behind cricket in popularity now."
The rise of Afghanistan players can be witnessed in the fact that four Afghan stars were bought in the Indian Premier League. While chinaman Zahir Khan missed out due to an injury, the other three – Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran – played for their respective teams and fared well.
This is why there is a rise of interest in the popularity of cricket in the country – and it could only bode well for the nation.
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