The translation of all this into a sporting rivalry began when Afghan kids found cricket in Pakistan. And it happened when cricket in Pakistan was at its peak: from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. Most members of the current national team of Afghanistan learnt their cricket in Pakistan. Mohammad Nabi, Asghar Afghan and Rashid Khan all played for Wajahatullah Wasti’s club, Islamia, in Peshawar. For its part, the PCB played a big role in the development of these cricketers – including letting them play in its domestic tournaments – and also cricket in Afghanistan.
The break-up began when India’s government felt the need to strengthen ties with Afghanistan to keep in check China’s influence, which comes via Pakistan. Cricket was but a vehicle for this charm diplomacy. In the mid-2010s, grants, permission to use Indian grounds as their home venue, and a Test debut against India all reached Afghanistan pretty swiftly. It helped the Indian government that the BCCI was under a ruling party member of parliament’s control now; previous board chief N Srinivasan is known to have resisted similar advances from the Afghanistan Cricket Board.