After a match in England two years ago was marred by fighting and a pitch invasion, Rashid Khan has pleaded with Afghan and Pakistan fans to behave when the two neighbors meet in the T20 World Cup on Friday.
Rashid, Afghanistan’s star spinner, played in that 50-over World Cup game at Leeds’ Headingley in 2019.
His team was defeated in agony, but the result was overshadowed by violence and scuffles both inside and outside the stadium.
As fans poured out of the terraces, players needed security escorts off the field.
Both teams are undefeated and vying for a semi-final spot, so Friday’s game in Dubai could be tense.
A weekend capacity crowd is expected from both countries’ large expatriate populations who live and work in the Gulf.
“It’s always a good game against Pakistan, but this should be treated as such,” Rashid said on Thursday.
“I implore all fans to remain cool and calm and simply enjoy the game.” What occurred in the 2019 match should not have occurred.”
Rashid took four wickets and fellow spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman took five as Afghanistan kicked off their T20 World Cup with a bang, bowling out Scotland for 60 in response to their mammoth 190-4.
The Afghanistan team, on the other hand, entered the tournament facing a ban due to the ruling Taliban government’s hardline stance on women’s sport.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), which requires all member countries to have men’s and women’s teams, said it has been monitoring the situation and will discuss it at its meeting next month in Dubai.
“Our government is streamlining things, and women’s cricket will also be streamlined,” Afghanistan cricket chief Azizullah Fazli told AFP at the start of the tournament.
Rashid stated that the team is attempting to concentrate solely on the tournament.
“We’re only thinking about the World Cup; we’re playing five games and need to win three,” the 23-year-old explained.
“We don’t think about what’s going on. We don’t dwell on what has happened in the past. That is not in our hands, and we have no control over it.
“We shouldn’t think about it; we don’t need any extra pressure.” As a team, we’re just focused on getting better and better at this World Cup.”
Afghanistan thrashed Scotland in Sharjah, smashing 11 sixes and 13 boundaries.
However, Rashid stated that taking aggressive shots is not the team’s only goal.
“To be honest,” he said, “we don’t have that kind of mindset, like, you have to focus on hitting so many sixes.”
“However, you must adjust to the wicket.”
“I believe we need to play better cricket.” It’s not about getting a lot of sixes. Sixes are extremely difficult to hit on these grounds. The wickets aren’t as conducive to hitting sixes.”