Born on July 15, 1984, Nawroz Khan Mangal was the first captain of Afghanistan and one of the most inspirational figures of the nation. Mangal is quite unlike hard-hitter Afghanistani batters and in fact, have a good technique which provided solidity in the middle order. On the birthday of one of Afghanistan’s hero, here are some interesting facts which covers his life story.
Childhood in refugee camps
Nawroz was born in Kabul and because of civil war, he fled from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and spent early years in refugee camps of neighbouring country Pakistan with his family. Nawroz returned to Afghanistan US Army put an end to Taliban rule in 2001.
Introduction to cricket
While being in refugee camps, Nawroz was introduced to cricket like many of his teammates.
Spotted by Taj Malik
Taj Malik was the first man to form a cricket team in Afghanistan post-Taliban rule and he was also the first coach of Afghanistan cricket team. It was him who spotted Nawroz. Although, Nawroz’s parents did not want their son to take cricket as a career as it cannot afford to their living. Taj pleaded Nawroz’s parents by staying overnight and by morning, they were convinced and allowed him to play. Soon, Nawroz made his debut for Afghanistan in 2001 against Nowshehra in the 2001 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (Grade II).
While growing up in refugee camps, it was surely next to impossible have the privilege of watching a cricket match. But in 1996, Nawroz finally get to watch a cricket match and it was semi-final of World Cup match between India and Pakistan. Talking to Times of India, he said, “I had heard so much about Imran Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram, but had never seen them. We did not have a TV. The first match I watched was the ’96 World Cup quarterfinal between India and Pakistan. Finally, the names had faces.”
Idolises Sachin Tendulkar
In the same interview with TOI, Nawroz revealed about his idol with an interesting story by saying, “My friend got me this poster of Sachin back in ’99. I could not put it up anywhere, so I carried it with me everywhere I went. I still have that poster. I have admired his game and his courage. It has been my heartfelt wish to get his autograph on my palm.”
Nawroz’s international debut for Afghanistan came against Oman in the 2004 ACC Trophy, however, it was not considered an international but for the first time, he was playing against a national side. Although, he finally made his international debut in 2009 in an ODI against Scotland at Benoni and he was the captain. Afghanistan beat Scotland by 89 runs. This was also Afghanistan’s debut ODI.
Nawroz led Afghanistan in 22 ODIs and 13 T20Is. With Nawroz as captain, Afghanistan won 12 ODIs and 6 T20Is. He played a total of 49 ODIs and scored 1,139 runs at 27.11 and 505 runs at 18.03 in T20Is. Moreover, under his leadership, Afghanistan gained ODI status in 2009 World Cup qualifiers and then qualifier for World T20 in 2010.
Nawroz announced his retirement from international cricket on January 4, 2017, and take up a role of the national chief selector. Despite having announced his retirement on January 4, Nawroz played his last match for Afghanistan on January 20 and that too as captain in the final of Desert T20 2017. Probably, their team wanted their 1st captain to retire on high in a fairy tale manner. Like any big cricketer in the world, Nawroz got a guard of honour from his team-mates. In the final of Desert T20, Afghanistan comfortably beat Ireland by 10 wickets with 73 balls spare. Post victory, Nawroz was carried by team-mates shoulder for a victory lap at Dubai International Stadium.
— Lal Khan Miakhel (@LalMiakhel) January 25, 2017
Nawroz went emotional in the post match ceremony. “It’s a very proud stage for me to [retire] on the winning tournament, and also in the final on the winning side,” Nawroz said through translator and team manager Hamkar Shiraha at the post-final press conference. “I got lots of respect, lots of support while playing for Afghanistan so all my wishes have been completed. Now I don’t have any other wish.”