With an aim to better their recent success, Ibrahim Zadran and his men have started sweating over their prowess ahead of the forthcoming T20 World Cup.
Hosted by the USA and West Indies, the biggest cricketing extravaganza of the year is scheduled to take place over the month of June where the Afghans are seemingly considered a team to watch out for.
Kickstarting their World Cup preparatory campaign on a positive note, Afghanistan recently overshadowed UAE 2-1 in a three-match T20 series.
In an exclusive interview with TimesofIndia.com, former Afghanistan captain and cricketing icon Asghar Afghan conveyed his confidence that Afghanistan should secure a spot in the T20 World Cup semi-finals.
Visibly confident on the back of the team’s outstanding performance in the ODI World Cup, Afghan remarked, “Afghanistan should play the semi-final of the T20 World Cup because, in the USA and West Indies, they will find the same sort of conditions as it is in Asia. There, bowlers get spin, and the ball sometimes comes late on the bat. And that could play to our advantage.
“And with the kind of results they got in the ODI World Cup, Afghanistan should definitely play the semi-final of the World Cup. But they need to work extremely hard for that. And if they could believe in themselves, nothing is impossible for Afghanistan.”
Diving deep into the details that led to their meteoric rise, the Afghanistani cricketing legend added, “Undoubtedly, Afghanistan’s performance in the ODI World Cup was exceptional. We played extremely well against England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. We have always wanted to play cricket against bigger cricketing nations because our players are very talented, there’s no doubt about that, and we won’t get that experience if we don’t play those big matches.
“Before the World Cup, we played against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh in the Asia Cup. There were ODI series against all those teams before the Asia Cup. And playing all those matches helped us improve in the World Cup.”
Afghan, now 37, firmly believes that playing more cricket against high-caliber opponents will improve their overall skillset.
“If this Afghanistan side continues to play home and away series against the bigger sides, I am certain that we will see a different Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup. People will enjoy our cricket, and it will be much better than this ODI World Cup,” said the Kabul-born all-rounder.
Afghan emphasized the need for a unified team effort. He asserted that all players are well-equipped to excel in the shorter format of the game. According to Afghan, the focus should be on collective contributions rather than individual performances.
“All of our players are T20 specialists, including our youngsters, because they mostly play T20 in Afghanistan. And that’s why I am confident of our boys in T20 because they have the experience. But it is also important how they prepare ahead of the World Cup.
“We had a good preparation for the ODI World Cup, and we have enough time to prepare for the T20 World Cup now. I can’t say right now who is going to perform or not. Everybody has the chance, but it is important to prepare the team first. If we play some big matches and work on our approach, I am sure that we will play 90 percent better than our last T20 World Cup,” he concluded.
Wisden picks 2023 men’s ODI team of the year, includes 7 Indians in the XI
Before their tour to Sri Lanka in what would be their final bid for preparation ahead of the T20 World Cup, Afghanistan are all set to lock horns with India in a three-match T20 series commencing on January 11.