In 2015, after the Afghanistan cricket team returned to their country after playing at the World Cup, gunshots were fired in the air. As uncharacteristic it may seem in other parts of the world, the Afghan cricketers would not have felt bothered as they had pretty much grown up amid such hostile situations.The official website of ICC suggests that the first game of cricket in Afghanistan was played in the capital city of Kabul in 1839 during the Anglo-Afghan wars with British troops.While the game’s inception replicates the template of other sub-continent countries, things charted a very different path.Before they nearly spoiled India’s party at the ICC World Cup 2019, the country’s cricket team had already witnessed nearly two decades of strife and success.Watch Highlights: India Beat Afghanistan by 11 Runs in a ThrillerBirth in the Refugee CampsAmid the raging Afghan war in the 1980s, as millions moved out to Pakistan, the country's tryst with the game began in the refugee camps. It was in Pakistan that a person by the name Taj Malik set up the Afghan Cricket Club and started coaching kids living in the refugee camps.Come the 90s, cricket began to catch the imagination of the Afghans and in 1995, the Afghan Cricket Federation (ACF), the country's official cricket body was set up by cricketer Allah Dad Noori.However, it took six more years to form the national team and in the same year, 2001, ICC granted Affiliate status to the Afghanistan Cricket Federation (now the Afghanistan Cricket Board).By now, Taj Malik had become the coach of the national team.Early SuccessAfter being granted associate membership of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in 2003, the team hit the ground running in the 2006 Asian Cricket Council Trophy, reaching the semi-final. That increased the excitement among the Afghan public, and the next few years were full of impressive performances.Under the leadership of Nawroz Mangal and with impassioned fans spurring them on, Afghanistan became joint winners of the inaugural ACC Twenty20 Cup in 2007 after the final against Oman ended in a tie.Around the same time, they hit the base camp of Division Five of ICC World Cricket League, five stages away from World Cup qualification. They won the ICC World Cricket League Division Five, defeating Jersey in the final, remained unbeaten in the ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Tanzania and then won the ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Argentina.So impressive was their meteoric rise that BBC made a documentary on them in 2008.Enter the World StageTheir performances in the ICC World Cricket League paved the way for Afghanistan to take part in the qualifiers for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. The side did remarkably well to reach the Super Eight stage in South Africa in 2009 but faltered at the last stage, where they lost to Canada.However, their run helped them gain one-day international status in April 2009 – a phenomenal achievement considering they started out barely eight years before.By this time, Taj had made way for former Pakistan Test cricketer Kabir Khan, as the national coach.Just a year down the line, Afghanistan qualified for the ICC World T20 in 2010, by winning the ICC World T20 Qualifier 2010 held in Dubai, defeating Ireland in the final by eight wickets.After Afghanistan Win, ICC Fines Indian Skipper Virat KohliTheir first brush with the best in the business, however, did not meet with much success, losing to India and South Africa to crash out of the tournament early. They recovered from their first World T20 tournament quickly though, beating Scotland in the ICC Intercontinental Cup final in Dubai in December the same year to win the event at their first attempt.Another couple of years later, Afghanistan first faced a full member in an ODI with a clash against Pakistan in Sharjah on 10 February 2012. They also hosted Australia in a one-off ODI in Sharjah the same year. In 2013, Afghanistan was promoted from Affiliate to Associate member by the ICC.World Cup...After they narrowly missed out on the 2011 World Cup berth, the Afghans were keen for the honours four years later.A clinical Afghanistan unit, led by Mohammad Nabi, beat Kenya by seven wickets to finish second in the ICC World Cricket League Championship in Sharjah. The victory meant Afghanistan would travel to the biggest event in world cricket – the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.They lost five matches in the group stage, but on 26 February 2015, Afghanistan created history when they recorded their first-ever win in a World Cup match, defeating Scotland by one wicket....and the WhitesTwo years down the line, the team bagged the ultimate badge of honour in the world of cricket – that of being a test-playing nation. On 22 June 2017, Afghanistan were awarded Full Member status by the ICC along with Ireland.A year later, on 14 June 2018, India hosted Afghanistan in a one-off Test in Bengaluru, which ended with defeat inside two days for the debutants.Afghanistan Cricket’s India ConnectMeanwhile, in 2018, they ensured yet another World Cup appearance, lift the World Cup Qualifier trophy, defeating West Indies in the final.(With inputs from ICC) We'll get through this! 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