« Back to articlePrint this article

Afghanistan make their own luck with eye on semis spot

November 01, 2023 09:46 IST

Afghanistan have won their last three matches on the trot to stay in contention for a spot in the ICC World Cup semis

IMAGE: Afghanistan have won their last three matches on the trot to stay in contention for a spot in the ICC World Cup semis. Photograph: Afghanistan Cricket Board/X

Afghanistan's superlative display has been the story of the 2023 World Cup and former England batsman Jonathan Trott has been its mastermind, lending a certain method to the madness of the rag-tag bunch of players at his disposal.

Afghanistan have long been perceived as a team built around their enviable bunch of crafty spinners, while their batting lineup was nearly entirely made of reckless sloggers.

They managed one win in their World Cup debut in 2015 and none in 2019, which only strengthened the perception that the 50-overs format was probably not their cup of tea.

It took three giant-killing acts by Hashmatullah Shahidi and his men to turn that notion on its head and Afghanistan now have outright chances of making the semi-finals of the 10-team tournament.


They stunned holders England in New Delhi and proved it was no fluke with comprehensive victories against 1992 winners Pakistan and 1996 champions Sri Lanka to move to the fifth place in the points table.

The clinical manner of their chase and the comprehensive nature of their victories belie their stature as a so-called 'minnow' of the game and their fans have demanded their wins should no longer be termed as 'upset'.

Trott, who took over the coaching reins in July, said it was the result of some serious hard work to get their batting and basics right for the tournament.

"The way that we train, the way we think about our cricket, certainly with batting, ... we're starting to see also the confidence in the players, in their own ability," Trott, who played 52 Tests between 2009-2015, said after Monday's victory against Sri Lanka.

"There's such an amount of talent, and we've just given a bit of structure, a bit of a gameplan, understanding what makes them the best players that they can be," said Trott.

"And so, when it comes to match-day, it's not just sort of rock up and it's left to luck."

The consistency of the Afghan top order has been a revelation in the tournament but Trott has already set them their next goal.

"Nobody's got 100 yet, so that's the next challenge," he said.

"I have absolutely no doubt that the players will be able to in the future. And hopefully it starts in the next game."

Afghanistan play the Netherlands in their next game in Lucknow on Friday.

© Copyright 2024 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.