Inexperience and miscalculation cost Afghanistan their Super 4 qualification in the ongoing Asia Cup’s crucial match against Sri Lanka in Lahore on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, by virtue of their narrow two-run victory entered the Super 4 stage to join Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Though the Afghans came tantalizingly close to pulling off an improbable victory against the host team that would have put them in the Super 4 stage, last man FazalHaq Farooqi cosumed three dot balls at a crucial stage of the game rather than giving strike to veteran Rashid Khan and their team folded up for 289 while chasing 292.
The Afghans have blundered in this fashion quite a few times before as well, losing important international matches which at one stage looked in their grasp.
While they have made quite an impression at the T20 level in world cricket since their debut in the shorter format in 2010, the Afghans have not been impressive at the ODIs which they have been playing since 2009.
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif, who also remained Afghanistan’s coach in 2011, while speaking to The Express Tribune, said, “Between Ghulam Nabi, Rashid Khan and Najeeb Tarakai, they have good three bowlers who share 30 overs,” observed Latif. “But after that, they have only part time bowlers to complete the rest of the 20 overs and that is where they concede so many runs which pose a stiff challenge for their batsmen.”
Latif, considered by many as the best cricketing brain in the country, further said that Afghanistan batsmen also get confused and lose wickets when asked to defend or rotate strike in the ODIs. “On Tuesday when they had to hit out to reach that 292-run target, they came good because it was T20 style cricket. But in 50-over matches they get dismissed quite often,” said the former wicketkeeper batsman.
Veteran cricket writer and expert Sohaib Alvi also rued Afghanistan’s lackluster campaign in the Asia Cup so far.
“Afghanistan last night lost the forest for the trees. But then they must ask themselves: Did they ask around enough for possible scenarios?” said Sohaib while talking to The Express Tribune.
“They seem to lose from winning positions. It’s those last-minute brain fades or inability to take that final wicket.”
Recalling Afghanistan’s loss to Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup, Sohaib said: “That 2019 World Cup loss to Pakistan from a commanding position and then those two finishes by Naseem Shah, first in the Asia Cup in UAE and then in the bilateral series against Pakistan last month highlights their team’s emotional response in such situations that is letting them down.”
“To be honest, they remind me of the Pakistan cricket side of the 1970s, who often lost the plot after writing the script themselves,” he said.
POST AUTHOR: Rishad Mahmood