Asia Cup: Afghanistan a talented team, but they lack big-match temperament

Afghanistan must start addressing this problem sooner than later

By Anis Sajan

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Rashid Khan reacts after Afghanistan's defeat to Sri Lanka. — AP
Rashid Khan reacts after Afghanistan's defeat to Sri Lanka. — AP

Published: Wed 6 Sep 2023, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 6 Sep 2023, 10:07 PM

Why have Afghanistan repeatedly failed to close out close games against big teams despite being in a dominant position?

That must be bothering all their fans and team members as they not only lost an agonisingly close game on Tuesday in the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka but also missed the chance to reach the Super Four stage of the tournament.

Chasing 292 in a must-win game, Afghanistan had to do it in 37.1 overs to qualify, according to their coach Jonathan Trott. This was the information given to them when they started their chase.

At the end of 37 overs, Afghanistan were 289/8 which meant they needed three runs off one ball for their net run rate to be ahead of Sri Lanka and the man taking strike was tailender Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

To get those runs, Mujeeb went for the big shot and was caught on the long boundary. Poor Rashid Khan was on his haunches after having brought Afghanistan within striking distance of the win.

Actually, Afghanistan were not out of it even if Mujeen had just given the strike to Rashid by taking a single.

Afghanistan would have still clinched the deal on net run rate if they had reached 293 in 37.2 overs, 294 after 37.3, 295 after 37.5, 296 after 38 overs, or 297 after 38.1.

Coach Jonathan Trott saying they were aware of the number of balls they had is baffling as the commentators on air were aware of it and repeating the same thing over and over.

Afghanistan’s analyst also confirmed the same which shows the lack of communication between the officials and the team.

Not only did Afghanistan fail to qualify but also lost the game which was a double blow. With proper communication, they could have easily achieved both.

But more importantly, what I have seen of Afghanistan is that they are not able to win close games.

Recently against Pakistan in the second ODI they had all but sealed the game but let the match slip away.

Similarly, in the 2019 World Cup, they lost two games from winning positions — one against India and the other against Pakistan. Both wins would have boosted their morale, but sadly they lost both.

It’s a pity because they are a talented team and they do all the hard work but still come out on the losing side. This is because of a lack of temperament in big matches where they tend to choke and throw away winning situations

Afghanistan must start addressing this problem sooner than later or else they will always be on the losing side and as a cricket fan you don’t want to see this again and again.

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