Afghanistan, you beauty!
Prior to the start of the Asia Cup, Afghanistan were the underdogs with the presence of other giants around them. But it is safe enough to say, they have got rid of that tag with some courageous performances throughout the tournament. After clean-sweeping their opponents completely in the first round, Afghanistan produced three nail-biting encounters in the Super 4s. These were the only three intense games Asia Cup has produced so far, and Afghanistan had a role to play in each one of them. All the three games were evenly poised till the very last over, but Afghanistan were unfortunate on a couple of occasions to not have ended on the winning side. They did most of the things right in the first two games, but lack of experience to finish it off in such nerve-wracking situations got the better of them.
They lost their first Super 4s game to Pakistan; Shoaib Malik smashed a six and a boundary in the last over to carry his team over the line. In their do-or-die encounter against Bangladesh, their batsmen failed to get 12 runs off the last 10 deliveries while looking for big strokes. After two such demoralising defeats, a team is bound to break down; their confidence is bound to be shattered, but this was not the scenario with Afghanistan.
Their next encounter was against a second string attack of India. Nevertheless, the team had won all their games in the tournament and was brimming with confidence. For Afghanistan, India was always going to be a tough nut to crack, but they were up for the challenge. Mohammad Shahzad led Afghanistan’s attack with the bat and was equally supported by Mohammad Nabi. Afghanistan had a competitive total on the board after which, their bowlers turned the game on its head in the death overs.
The game ended in a tie, but it was no less than a moral victory for Afghanistan. The combat spirit of the budding side is an advantage for them in the long run. A little more experience from here on, would help them transform them into a force to be reckoned in the near future. They have definitely won thousands of hearts across the globe with their determined performance. The cricket fraternity took to their social media handles to acknowledge Afghanistan’s fearless performance.
Had Afghanistan had a little bit of luck and experience on their side, the results would have been way different than what it is now. They could have won all the three games ad sculpted a spot in the final. The three nail-biters could have easily gone Afghanistan’s way, such has been their impact.
It doesn’t matter who wins the title, Afghanistan have left a mark on this Asia Cup and will be widely remembered for their pugnacious performance. They have the hunger to win; they are never short of motivation and have got over their defeats quickly to battle it out in the next game. This is a rare quality, which will be helpful for the budding side to shape up really well. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they deserved a place in the final and now pose a threat to any team across the globe.
Afghanistan have some star players in the line-up, but the side stepped up on a whole in this tournament. It was not about one or two players, they did play like a unit. Their batting had been little weak in the past, but did extremely well in this tournament. Shahzad and Shahidi are currently placed at three and four on the list of highest run-scorers in the tournament with the top two being Indians. It’s a big achievement for this side growing side.
They have a potent batting attack with the likes of Shahzad, Shahidi, skipper Afghan Asghar and Rahmat Shah while all-rounders like Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shinwari and Gulbadin Naib are always handy to have. They undoubtedly have one of the finest spin-attacks in the world with their primary weapons being Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Apart from all this, they have some serious depth in their batting.
The future of Afghanistan cricket only looks bright and with a lot of young legs, one can only expect them to get better with time. They are moving in the right direction and it will be interesting to see how they perform in the upcoming World Cup. One shouldn’t be shocked if they create an upset or two in the grand event. For now, they should be pretty much pleased with their run in the Asia Cup. They do have few questions to answer, but what they did out in UAE deserved a standing ovation. They have a lot of positives to take, but cannot afford to lose close games as such. In the end, victory is all that matters and this side has the ingredients to take down big teams. The upcoming few months will be very crucial from Afghanistan’s point of view.