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Belief drives Afghanistan's ICC World Cup campaign

Source: PTI
October 10, 2023 20:09 IST
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The Afghan cricket team at a practice session in New Delhi on Monday

IMAGE: The Afghan cricket team at a practice session in New Delhi on Monday. Photograph: Afghanistan Cricket Board/X

After failing in the opening match against Bangladesh, Afghanistan skipper Shahidi knows his team can bounce back in the next game against India on Wednesday.

After struggling against spin in their tournament opener, Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi on Tuesday said it was a one-off and his batters are well equipped to deal with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Co in the World Cup game against India in New Delhi on Wednesday.


Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan had taken three wickets each as Afghanistan were bowled out for 156 in Dharamsala.

Afghanistan have world class spinners in their ranks with Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran bowling in the nets regularly.

"We play better spinners in the net sessions. Like if you see Rashid, Nabi, Noor and Mujeeb, we play them every day. So, I think our team is far better in playing spin bowling.

"So, that game (vs Bangladesh) we struggled but you can't say that you are not good enough on one game. So that game is gone now and we know we can play spinners better and we will try to come back in next game in every department," said Shahidi on the eve of the game.

Shahidi is well aware that Afghanistan can't go deep in the tournament relying solely on the spinners. The batters must step up.

"Yes, I made a statement at the beginning that we will play good cricket as a batting side. We have a good spin bowling attack, but only one department can't win you games.

"You have to score runs for that, to win the game. Also in the Bangladesh game, I know we didn't do well with the bat, but we still believe, I still believe, and as a team we have that belief that we can come back in the next game and throughout the tournament," said the skipper.

Rashid Khan, who went wicketless in the opening match against Bangladesh, has a lot to ponder about 

IMAGE: Rashid Khan, who went wicketless in the opening match against Bangladesh, has a lot to ponder about going into the India match. Photograph: Afghanistan Cricket Board/X

The team's trump card Rashid Khan went wicketless against Bangladesh as opposition batters chose to play safe against him.

Not taking too much risks against Rashid has been a trend but Shahidi said they are not too bothered about it.

"See, Rashid is the best bowler in ODI and T20s, so whatever opposition is doing, we don't care about that, like how they play, they want to play Rashid. But for us the important thing is how he has planned against the opposition. So that matters to us.

"We are playing ODIs over the last six months so he knows how to bowl and he knows how to bowl to every team. He has the quality and whenever it's his day he can do anything against the opposition, so we are expecting and we are hopeful that he delivers in tomorrow's game."

India used to be home base for Afghanistan for a long time. Their stars players are an integral part of the IPL and at times words will be exchanged on the field like it was the case between Naveen Ul Haq and Virat Kohli in the IPL earlier this year.

Asked about that incident, Shahidi added: "See, as you mentioned before also, like India is our home, it was our home, we played here and the people of India give a lot of love to Afghanistan people.

"And what happened in the ground, that aggression comes to every player, it's not about India and Afghanistan. So, it can come to everyone. So, this happened and still a lot of our players, we have idols from Indian team like Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid."

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