Afghanistan sound warning to other nations ahead of World Cup

Afghanistan sound warning to other nations ahead of World Cup
Afghanistan players celebrate after they claimed the last Indian wicket to tie the match.

Dubai - Captain Asghar says team rose above expectations in the Asia Cup

By Clareto Monsorate

Published: Thu 27 Sep 2018, 9:08 PM

The curtain may have come down on Afghanistan's hopes of winning the Asia Cup trophy. But, the way they ran the Big Three - India, Pakistan and Bangladesh - close in the Super Four is testimony to the threat they could pose to other cricketing nations in the 2019 World Cup.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan, prior to the tournament, had warned his team would not only compete, but would achieve something special. The boys from the war-torn nation convinced one and all that they were not in the UAE merely to make up the numbers but to make a statement.

They did that in style with an upset win over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group stage. In the Super Four they narrowly lost to Pakistan (by three wickets) and to Bangladesh (by three runs) - both in last over finishes.

On Tuesday, they went one better. The No. 10 ODI ranked country pulled off a sensational last over tie against world number two India which convinced the captain to send out warning signals to the rest of the nations. "Remember, this is a warning for the World Cup teams," a confident Asghar said at the post-match press conference. Afghanistan have a world class bowler in leg-spinner Rashid Khan but their only worry is their batting.

"We have improved in our batting," said the captain. "Previously this was our weak area and we are working on it regularly. In the Asia Cup it (batting) was okay but we will be going to the World Cup and the conditions there will be different so definitely we still need to work more on our batting. But we have improved compared to the last couple of years."

Asghar said the tie against India was the biggest result for his country. "I think you can say it was the biggest result for us as India were unbeaten so far in the tournament. So, when you tie the match with them it is considered a proud moment."

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who led the team in place of the rested skipper Rohit Sharma on Tuesday, too felt Afghanistan have massively improved. "I think their cricket has gone up a lot," said Dhoni. "If you see how they've continued playing right from the start of the Asia Cup, it's been commendable.

"They're the one country that has risen through the ranks."

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