More sports! Less war!

TIME

It’s a clear saturday morning, and Afghanistan is playing Ireland at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on the city’s outskirts. The match is part of a formal series, but essentially it’s practice for the Cricket World Cup being held jointly in Australia and New Zealand from Feb. 14 to March 29. Still, more than 200 Afghans (as opposed to about 20 Irish fans) turn up to watch. “It doesn’t matter whether Afghanistan wins or loses—we come just to see them play,” says Ibrahim Abdul Qayyum, a trader who is carrying a tablecloth­-size black, red and green Afghanistan flag on a wooden pole.

Qayyum and his fellow supporters applaud each single run Afghanistan scores, but a shot that crosses the field’s boundary for four runs elicits loud cheers, and the occasional six—the cricket equivalent of a baseball home run—sparks a frenzy of whistling, dancing and drumming. Their spirited enthusiasm seems to…

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