Afghanistan pledge to learn from Australia drubbing

Published June 3, 2019
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said his side would learn from their seven-wicket humbling by Australia on Saturday as they seek to regroup for the rest of their World Cup campaign. — Reuters/File
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said his side would learn from their seven-wicket humbling by Australia on Saturday as they seek to regroup for the rest of their World Cup campaign. — Reuters/File

BRISTOL: Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said his side would learn from their seven-wicket humbling by Australia on Saturday as they seek to regroup for the rest of their World Cup campaign.

The rank outsiders at the tournament in England and Wales had a terrible start against the defending champions in Bristol, slumping to five for two, with both openers out for nought.

They fought back bravely, with 43 from Rahmat Shah and 51 from Najibullah Zadran, but were still dismissed for 207 with more than 11 overs to spare.

Australia romped to victory in the 35th over of their innings, David Warner top-scoring with 89 not out.

Naib said his side did not get the momentum they needed at the start of the innings because they lost early wickets, saying they could not afford to cede the initiative against strong sides.

“Definitely, we can play against these kind of teams, so you should take positive things from them,” he said.

“Obviously, we have a tough match upcoming. Every team, especially for us, is a tough team, so we are just waiting for our turn.

“These kind of teams, they don’t give you a single chance but they are coming really hard. We just look and we just take a positive thing from today.”

Naib welcomed the vocal support for the Afghan team from the crowd, who booed and jeered both Warner and Steve Smith on their return to official international cricket after ball-tampering bans.

“Obviously, if you have this kind of audience and they are supporting you and you know they are on your side you take a lot of positive things,” the skipper added.

“So the crowd all support Afghanistan and there was a huge number of Afghans in the crowd there, so it gave a lot of energy on the ground for the boys.”

Zadran said the morale of Afghanistan, playing at just their second World Cup, remained intact despite this heavy defeat as they looked forward to their second match against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

“We will take some positive thinking,” said Zadran. “We are a good side and we have an opportunity to beat any side in the world so, God willing, we will come back strongly.”

He added he still hoped Afghanistan could reach the semi-finals, in a tournament in which all 10 teams play each other to determine the last four. “We are a good side, we have good spinners and a lot of matches remaining.”

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2019

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