Rashid Khan painted the colours of the Afghanistan flag onto his face ahead of playing for Trent Rockets in The Hundred Eliminator
The Taliban are in the midst of a rapid takeover of Afghanistan, with the militant Islamist group seizing control of the capital Kabul and forcing the collapse of the country’s government.
On Afghanistan’s Independence Day on Thursday, protesters in the cities of Kabul and Asadabad and the provinces of Nangarhar, Khost and Kunar waved the country’s flag in defiance of Taliban rule.
The Taliban have their own flag with a white and black emblem and protesters were seen removing that flag and replacing it with the Afghan flag in Jalalabad on Wednesday, prompting the Taliban to violently disperse the protest with at least one casualty.
Gareth Copley – ECB/ECB via Getty Images)
And Khan, who has spoken emotionally about the events going on in his home nation and repeatedly called for peace, showed his support during The Hundred Eliminator by painting the colours of Afghanistan’s flag on his face.
On Independence Day, Khan posted several images of the Afghan flag on Twitter and wrote: “Today let us take some time to value our nation and never forget the sacrifices.
“We hope and pray for the peaceful , developed and United nation INSHALLAH #happyindependenceday”
Khan is one of four Afghan cricketers who has been playing in England for The Hundred, along with Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Qais Ahmad, who all posted images of the Afghan flag to mark Independence Day.
Afghanistan are due to play a three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Sri Lanka next month and the series is set to go ahead as planned.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Hamid Shinwari, the Afghanistan Cricket Board’s CEO, said: “Cricket is doing very well. We are going to the office (ACB). The cricket team is preparing for the Pakistan series in Sri Lanka. It is confirmed. We are committed to sending a team to Sri Lanka as soon as possible.”
He added: “They [the Taliban] are supporting cricket ever since the beginning. They never had any issue with cricket.
“The thing is people love cricket here in Afghanistan and that’s why it has to go with the flow. My confidence that cricket will not be affected is because of two factors: firstly, the legacy.
“Cricket development in Afghanistan was initiated during Taliban’s first stint 20 years ago. Secondly ACB offices are operating. So far we have seen no issues.
“The cricketers are doing very well. They have been assured and they are also happy that cricket will be going on.
“They are committed to going to Sri Lanka, playing against Pakistan, and after that to the T20 World Cup.
“Cricket has become an important tool for community development in the country. And the players in particular are icons, and understand the importance.”