Afghanistan and Bangladesh were just 45 minutes into their World Cup cricket tie on Wednesday when the US Embassy in Kabul declared the debut-making Afghan side the “winner” of the match.
The Bangladesh side was still batting when the US embassy's official Twitter account posted: “Congratulations to #Afghanistan for their win over #Bangladesh in the Cricket World Cup #CWC15 #AFGvsBAN.”
The tweet prompted a series of sarcastic responses from Twitter users in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, with some suggesting that the US mission might have been carried away by the excitement of Afghanistan's World Cup debut.
Twitter users even suggested, tongue firmly in cheek, that the US had joined the ranks of match-fixers. Zeenia Shaukat tweeted: “Have you ppl fixed the match for you to know at the start of the match who to congratulate?”
The retorts prompted an apologetic tweet from the US Embassy: "Premature posting but we are still cheering for team Afghanistan at the #CWC15! #AFGvsBAN.”
Cricket started in Afghanistan 20 years ago, when it was probably the only sport permitted by the then ruling Taliban. Many Afghans also began following and playing the game while living as refugees in neighbouring cricket-mad Pakistan.
Afghanistan reached the level of Associate nations only in 2013 and went into the World Cup ranked 11 in the world.