A mere 16 years after becoming part of the ICC, Afghanistan gained Test status. Four games into their Test-history, they've already picked up two wins, including one against a far more experienced Bangladesh team. Their top players are already global superstars who feature in multiple franchise leagues.
Given the incredible speed of the nation's rise as a cricketing force, it doesn't sound implausible that their players are dreaming of winning the T20 World Cup. Rashid Khan, Afghanistan's all-formats captain and leading cricketer, believes they have the talent in all departments to pull off this dream, and only need the belief, which he feels will come with more matches against the top international teams.
"The biggest dream of the whole country was to be called a Full Member team and to play a Test game," Rashid said on DRS with Ash, a YouTube show hosted by the India offspinner R Ashwin. "That was something which we were all hoping and praying for, the whole country, and we were not expecting that to happen as soon as it did. When you're playing a Test game against India in India, it's more than a dream for everyone.
"When we were playing against you guys in our first Test game, we didn't know what we were doing. Everyone was just counting - I'm going to be the first one to hit a four, the first one to hit a six, the first one to take a single. Everyone was just so excited to play the first game and to get to the ground and do his best. It wasn't the best game for us, but there were so many things we learned.
"I think the biggest achievement [for Afghanistan] should be, right now, what the team is looking for, what the country is expecting is, to win the T20 World Cup, because we have all the skills, talent, and we just need to have that belief in ourselves that we can do it. Talent-wise we are so good, we have the spinners, we have the fast bowlers, we have the batting skills as well. But what took us down in that Test was our experience against big teams, because we didn't play enough cricket with them.
"The moment we play more series with them, we can become a better team. We are very famous for T20 players, but inshallah, that is a dream of mine and a dream of the country that one day we will win the T20 title and that will be the biggest achievement for Afghanistan cricket and for us as well."
The next T20 World Cup is scheduled to be played in October-November 2021, in India. More immediately, Rashid's focus will be on the IPL, which begins in the UAE on September 19. Rashid has been among Sunrisers Hyderabad's key performers in his three IPL seasons so far, taking 55 wickets in 46 games at an average of 21.69 and an economy rate of 6.55.
Rashid carries good form into the IPL, having taken 11 wickets at 22.63, with an economy rate of 6.85, in the recently concluded Caribbean Premier League.