Afghanistan keen to rise after World Cup washout

Having named Gulbadin Naib just before the mega tournament, the Afghanistan Board has handed the job in all formats to Rashid Khan.
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan reacts.(Action Images via Reuters)
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan reacts.(Action Images via Reuters)
Updated on Oct 30, 2019 08:26 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By

Afghanistan will look to pick up the pieces after their World Cup debacle when they face West Indies in a full series at their new home venue here. The contests will start on Nov 6 with the three-game ODI series.

Having grown into a serious force in limited-overs cricket, Afghanistan had a disappointing World Cup in England, losing all their nine game. Having named Gulbadin Naib just before the mega tournament, the Afghanistan Board has handed the job in all formats to Rashid Khan.

The champion leg-spinner said on Tuesday that the World Cup debacle has led to a change in the mindset of the players. “We’ve been working hard on our shortcomings and making sincere efforts to eradicate them. We lacked the finishing ability in the World Cup, but fought well against all teams and lost close matches. We should have won 4-5 matches there.”

Not playing against big teams for four years in the run-up to the World Cup proved a major disadvantage as Afghanistan basically got to face only Zimbabwe, Scotland, Ireland and Bangladesh after the 2015 World Cup with the lone exposure coming in the 2018 Asia Cup.

“After the 2015 World Cup, we didn’t get a chance to play against teams like Australia, New Zealand, England, etc., so understanding them was difficult. We are hopeful we can come good at the next World Cup after having a good experience of playing against big teams over the next four years,” Rashid Khan said.

Stressing on the team’s development in Tests, Khan said ODIs and T20 cricket weren’t a problem, but gaining experience in Tests was vital. “My boys were good against Bangladesh in the Test last time. We are natural power-hitters, so smashing sixes in 50-over and T20 cricket isn’t a problem for us. Test cricket requires so much patience and I need my boys to mature in that format also.”

Khan said the West Indies series would help his side prepare for next year’s Asia Cup in Malaysia. “Right now we are focused on the Asia Cup and this series provides a perfect opportunity to get ready for that. Playing against West Indies will help prepare well for the next T20 World Cup,” he said.

Khan denied being skipper in all three formats would prove stressful. “It’s not at all pressure. I enjoy my cricket in all formats. When I go to bat, I play like a batsman without having pressure, and don’t feel any pressure even when I bowl. Pressure is a mental thing. Captaincy becomes a pressure only when you start thinking about the results. One should be focused on his game. If everyone thinks like that, things become easier.”

On the West Indies series, which includes three ODIs, three Two and one-off Test, Khan said his side was well prepared for the Windies. “They are a strong side, but we are well prepared and ready to challenge them. Recently, we had a good domestic tournament back home and have infused new talent in the side. I am sure people in Lucknow would get to see good cricket over the next month.”


    Sharad Deep is a principal correspondent based at Lucknow. He has spent 26 years in journalism and covers sports.

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