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Afghanistan clinched a historic eight-wicket victory over Pakistan, marking their first-ever win against the 1992 World Cup champions in eight One Day International (ODI) matches. The match, played in Chennai, witnessed Afghanistan’s spinners outclassing their Pakistani counterparts, a feat that left Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, rueful of their missed opportunity.
Spinners have traditionally played a crucial role in subcontinental cricket, especially on pitches that favor turn. However, in the game against Afghanistan, Pakistan’s spinners failed to apply pressure on the opposition, collectively conceding 6.23 runs per 21 overs without taking a single wicket. This lackluster performance allowed Afghanistan to chase down a target of 283 runs with ease and eight wickets in hand.
Babar Azam, clearly dejected, pointed out the shortcomings in Pakistan’s spin department. He emphasized that the spinners couldn’t maintain the required level of pressure on the opponents during the crucial middle overs, which ultimately proved detrimental to their performance. Azam also highlighted the minimal margin for error for bowlers on the Chennai pitch, where even slight deviations from the optimal line and length resulted in being punished by the opposition.
In stark contrast, Afghanistan’s spinners played a pivotal role in their victory, collectively bowling 38 overs and claiming four crucial wickets while maintaining an economy rate of 4.63. This aggressive and effective use of spin was among the highest seen in World Cup history. Afghanistan’s coach, Jonathan Trott, acknowledged the pitch conditions in Chennai, which were conducive to spin bowling, and praised the spinners for exploiting this advantage.
Trott particularly lauded 18-year-old Noor Ahmad, who made his World Cup debut in this match. Noor Ahmad picked up three major wickets while conceding just 49 runs in his 10 overs. Trott highlighted Noor Ahmad’s ability to generate substantial spin when he found the right length, making him a valuable asset for the team.
Afghanistan’s spinners had also played a crucial role in their stunning 69-run win over defending champions England earlier in the tournament, where they secured eight wickets. In that game, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan each claimed three wickets, contributing significantly to their team’s success.
This victory against Pakistan propelled Afghanistan from the bottom of the table to the sixth position, and it has the potential to create a positive ripple effect in Afghan cricket. Trott expressed his desire for the players to pass on the lessons from this historic win and inspire future generations of Afghan cricketers.
Despite the setback, Babar Azam remained optimistic about Pakistan’s chances in the tournament. He emphasized that cricket is a game full of surprises, and anything can happen in the remaining matches. Pakistan will stay in Chennai to face South Africa next, while Afghanistan is set to play Sri Lanka in Pune.
The historic win over Pakistan is undoubtedly a turning point for Afghan cricket, and it has the potential to fuel the dreams of aspiring cricketers in the country. Trott emphasized the importance of cherishing this victory but also maintaining focus on upcoming challenges, such as their match against Sri Lanka.