Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan are no longer a one-dimensional side

In the course of this tournament, the top-order batting has improved by leaps and bounds

By Ayaz Memon

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Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi is leading from the front. — AFP
Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi is leading from the front. — AFP

Published: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 8:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 8:39 PM

This promises to be a mouthwatering contest. On paper, and in terms of points and NRR, the Aussies are some way ahead. But after their giant-killing run, who’ll discount the threat from Afghanistan?

With 10 points, Australia have one foot already in the semifinal but need another win to make a place in the last-four certain.

Afghanistan’s task is a tad more difficult given their inferior NRR and the fact that two other teams, New Zealand and Pakistan are also vying for a place in the knockout.

After two early defeats, the Aussies have perked up tremendously, winning their next four matches including the last one against old foe England quite convincingly.

Nonetheless, pressure on them will be greater than on Afghanistan, who have everything to gain and very little to lose, having already performed beyond expectations.

What makes Afghanistan dangerous is that they are no longer a one-dimensional side, dependent essentially on their fantastic spinners for success.

In the course of this tournament, the top-order batting has improved by leaps and bounds. They have free-stroking batsmen, strong finishers and those who can hold an innings together.

Their skipper, Hashmatullah Shahidi, has been superb with the bat. With 282 runs and three half-centuries so far, Hashmatullah has been the face of Afghanistan’s newfound batting prowess and the team’s bulwark.

Perhaps even more vital has been his captaincy. Calm and collected, he’s led the team astutely.

Their fast bowlers are also striking at the start and towards the end, making the bowling attack more potent.

Australia, with the top order firing, are likely to be bolstered by Glenn Maxwell’s return, but can’t afford to drop guard against the doughty Afghans.

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