A Taliban official on Wednesday reached the Abu Dhabi cricket stadium to cheer the Afghanistan team in a crucial T20 World Cup encounter against India.
While the Taliban frown on many forms of public entertainment, cricket has always been an exception, game fighters followed closely even during the war whenever the national team was playing.
“Today, we have a T20 World Cup match between Afghanistan and India. We have come to the city of Abu Dhabi to encourage and cheer on the national team of our beloved country Afghanistan,” Mohammad Jalal said on his official Twitter handle.
Hoping for an Afghanistan win, Jalal said that his country supports and backs Afghanistan’s national cricket team and its players.
“The match will be starting in a while and we hope Afghanistan will win today’s match, InshaAllah,” he further said.
Afghanistan are facing an Indian team in a crucial WCT20 clash today. A win for Afghanistan significantly strengthen the chances of the Afghan team reaching the semifinal stage and India would crash out of the tournament.
Following the resounding win against Scotland, Taliban officials took to social media to congratulate the Afghan national cricket team for winning a match in the Twenty20 World Cup.
Afghanistan beat Scotland in a match played in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates – the first major victory for the team since the Taliban takeover of the country.
“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 joined in the praise, adding: “We hope for similar and even higher achievements in other fields, especially in the political, economic and scientific fields.”
The highest-profile message came from Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Afghanistan’s current acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani – the head of the Haqqani Network.
“Afghanistan won,” the younger Haqqani said.
The Taliban’s representative-designate to the United Nations Suhail Shaheen tweeted: “Well done boys!”
Despite years of violence and upheaval, Afghanistan has an enthusiastic and widespread following of cricket and residents of Kabul were eagerly anticipating the cricket world cup matches.
The governing International Cricket Council (ICC) will meet this month to determine the game’s future in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.