Cricket World Cup 2023: Rashid Khan’s prediction that Afghanistan were a dangerous team has come true

It is not surprising that they are on the cusp of making it to the semifinals in only their second World Cup

By Anis Sajan

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Afghanistan's Rashid Khan. - PTI File
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan. - PTI File

Published: Fri 3 Nov 2023, 10:16 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Nov 2023, 10:58 AM

When the World Cup started, pundits felt that Afghanistan was a team that might spoil the party of one or two of the other teams.

But the way the Afghanistan players have turned up game after game, they have not only caused one upset after the other but beaten the opponents soundly in all departments of the game, be it bowling, batting or fielding.

So, it is not surprising that they are on the cusp of making it to the semifinals in only their second World Cup. With eight points from seven games and a three-match winning streak, they look to be in red-hot form.

After a disappointing start where they lost their opening game to Bangladesh, Afghanistan has beaten three past World Champions in England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. and today beat the Netherlands.

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 scored 284 batting first against England and defended the score easily thanks to their spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Mohammed Nabi and the mercurial Rashid Khan who picked up eight wickets between them.

They had s hiccup in between when they lost to the Kiwis but after that game, they have looked a different team.

In the game against Pakistan, they chased down 282 with eight wickets to spare where all their top four batters 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.

Afghanistan's batter Ibrahim Zadran. - PTI File
Afghanistan's batter Ibrahim Zadran. - PTI File

In their next game against Sri Lanka, the Afghani batters chased down 241 with seven wickets in hand and with five overs to spare at Pune.

And today against the The Netherlands, they comfortably chased a target of 179 with almost 18 overs to spare.

In an interview with Rashid Khan two months earlier, he had mentioned that Afghanistan were as dangerous a team as 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 exactly what their top-order batsmen have shown.

Led by dashing openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, who averages 50 on ODI, Rahmat Shah who has now had three consecutive half-centuries and captain consistent, Hasmatullah Shahidi, their batting looks solid as a rock.

In his last three innings, Hasmatullah has scored 48, 56 and 58 not out, batting the way ODI batting needs to be approached. Together they have given themselves time and played sensible cricket which has got them to the target.

Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi . - AFP File
Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi . - AFP File

Even wicketkeeper-batsman Ikram Alikhil scored a crucial half-century against England to get them to a respectable total.

What Rashid Khan had spoken about, has come true at this World Cup and they are there to win games and go further in the tournament and not just upset teams.

Currently, Afghanistan are just two games away from a possible semifinal berth due to a team effort. Their bowlers have performed as a unit led by the veteran Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, young Noor Ahmed and fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi while their main batters have been scoring runs.

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This cannot be a lash in the pan as they have won four games, a feat matched by Australia and New Zealand they have won 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 are aware that this is not an Afghanistan side that can be taken lightly.


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