Batters have taken responsibility: Rashid Khan

Sports Monday 06/November/2023 09:59 AM
By: Anis Sajan

When the World Cup started, Afghanistan were considered has a team by all pundits who might spoil the party of one or two teams but the way the Afghanistan players have turned up game after game , it has not upset teams but beaten them soundly in all departments be it bowling, batting and fielding and are on the cusp of making the semifinals in only their second world cup with 8 points from seven games and are on a three match winning streak and looking in red hot form. After a disappointing start where Afghanistan lost their opening game to Bangladesh, Afghanistan has beaten three past World Champions in England, Pakistan and Srilanka and today beat Netherlands and all victories have been one sided which has made them one of the favourites to be in the top four as they still have two games to go.

It all started in Delhi two weeks ago in their third game when they put 284 batting first against England and defended the score easily thanks to their spin trio of Mujeeb ur Rehman, Mohammed Nabi and Mercurial Rashid Khan who picked 8 wickets between them. They had s hiccup in between when they lost to the Kiwis but after that game, they have looked a totally different team. In the game against Pakistan, they chased down 282 with eight wickets to spare where all their top four batters in Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah and captain Hasmatullah Shahidi played compact cricket and showed that they had the temperament to chase down the target. In their next game against Srilanka, the Afghani batters chased 241 with seven wickets in hand and with five overs to spare at Pune. And today once against Netherlands they chased 179 with almost 18 overs to spare.

In an interview to yours truly , Rashid Khan two months had mentioned Afghanistan as much as dangerous they were in T20 because of the shorter format, they were always good in their bowling in ODI and for them to do well in the World cup their batsman had to bat deep and show the temperament to score big and chase down targets and this is what exactly their top order batsmen have shown in dashing opener Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, who averages 50 on ODI , Rahmat Shah who has now three consecutive half centuries and captain Hasmatullah Shahidi whose last three innings have been 48 , 56 and 58 not out have been all batting with the way ODI batting needs to be approached and given themselves time and played sensible cricket and got to the target. Even wicketkeeper batsman Ikram Alikhil scored a crucial half century against England to get them to a respectable total. What Rashid Khan had spoken, has come true this World Cup and they are here to win games and go further in the tournament and not just upset teams.

That Afghanistan are just two games away from a possible semifinal berth is due to a team effort where their bowlers have performed as a unit with the veteran Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb ur Rehamn, Rashid Khan and young Noor Ahmed and also fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi and their main batters scoring runs. This cannot be flash in the pan as they have won four games as much Australia, New Zealand have won and one more than Pakistan. Their next two games are against tougher opponents like Australia and South Africa, but I am sure both the above teams know this is not an Afghanistan side who can be taken lightly.