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Everything to gain, nothing to lose: The story of Afghanistan in World Cup 2023

CWC 2023: A tournament to remember for Afghanistan. Afghanistan have defeated big names like Pakistan and England in the World Cup so far.

CWC 2023, Afghanistan vs Sri Lanka_  Afghanistan beat Sri Lanka and move to 5th place in points table _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©ACBofficials_Twitter
Afghanistan have defeated big names like PAK and ENG (Images: ©ACBofficials/Twitter)

Afghanistan has created history by pulling off two big upsets in the ongoing Cricket World Cup 2023. The ninth-ranked Afghanistan first stunned the defending champions England and now they have defeated Pakistan too in the tournament.

With Pakistan’s defeat, the Afghans celebrated only their third-ever win in the World Cups, with the first coming against Scotland in 2015.

A fighting spirit and passion are the biggest strength of Afghanistan and these are oft-displayed in their games as well. In the 5 matches they have played so far, the Sahidi-led side has staged two great comebacks after heavy losses emphasizing their fighting qualities.

Their spin attack was their most potent weapon going into the World Cup, but even their fast bowlers have put up stunning displays in the tournament and they have been ably supported by their hard-hitting batters. The Afghans defeated Pakistan for the first time in ODIs all thanks to the tremendous batting display by their top-order batters.

Biggest positives for Afghanistan in World Cup 2023

Blazing top-order batting

The considerable positive for Afghanistan in the ongoing edition of WC is their top-order batting. Their top-order batters have been phenomenal in some crucial matches, contributing essential runs in the under pressure situations. The opening duo of Gurbaz and Zadran helped Afghanistan get off to a quick start in their win against England, and they were even more impressive against Pakistan.

The aggressive batting of 21-year-old Gurbaz during the power play allows Afghanistan to sit in and not take much risk in the middle overs. His partner, the equally young, Ibrahim Zadran oozes class and his average of 47.47 from 23 ODI games so far in his career is proof of his class.

The most encouraging point for Afghanistan is that other batters too have chipped in from time to time. In recent games, much of Afghan batting has depended on the fortunes of Zadran and Gurbaz. But it was the experienced duo of Rahmat Shah and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi who stood up to take charge and ensured the Afghans delivered the second upset in the tournament.

Their scoring rate in the game against Pakistan was particularly impressive.

The powerful four-spin attack

Afghanistan's biggest asset lies in their spin bowling department. The already strong spin trio of Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb are now joined by another young spin sensation - Noor Ahmed, who was the only successful bowler in the historic win over Pakistan.

Afghanistan spin bowlers were seen dominating against England as well, which helped them to get their first win in this edition of the tournament. They have world class spinners who can easily change the momentum of any game.

Maturity in terms of ODI cricket

Though Afghanistan have not played much ODI cricket over the years, the side has shown immense maturity so far in this edition of the World Cup.

The team has played a lot of T20 cricket around the world, and they have players who have copious amounts of international exposure as they have played various leagues. Coming out from the T20 mindset is not that easy, but this side has adapted to the ODI format really well and they are now tweaking their IPL experience to great effect.

The Afghans are quick to learn from their experience and use it in their next outing. The way this side has grown over the years with some world class players, it looks like they have a very bright future in this format of the game. It might not be right to even call them underdogs, after their victory over England and Pakistan. They are smart and have been adapting really well to this format of cricket and seem to be the rising stars.

This Afghanistan team has lost, learned and evolved with time. Moreover they have used their experience of IPL very well in this CWC taking place in India. A few players of this team are very much familiar with the conditions here in India, and they have used it to maximum effect.

Besides their spin attack the fast bowling department has also shown extensive growth – especially Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi who are bowling well. This side is fired-up and they have confidence in their abilities. They have the strength to defeat any side, and it is already their best World Cup outing as they have won two big games against established teams, and it seems they are intent on winning more.


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