England, Pakistan, Netherlands, Sri Lanka and Australia (approximately) – Afghanistan got the better of all these teams in the 2023 ODI World Cup in India. And you wouldn't be far off rooting for them to qualify for the semi-finals. And if it wasn't for Glenn Maxwell he would certainly have been eligible.
However, as we look ahead, the next big win is the T20 World Cup in the United States and the West Indies. Can Afghanistan improve itself and actually reach the semi-finals for once? Former captain Asghar Afghan believes they can do it.
“Afghanistan has the potential to reach the T20 World Cup semi-finals,” said the Afghan, who is now preparing for the Asian Legends League.
The Afghan team had performed brilliantly during the ODI World Cup and the former cricketer is confident that the experience the players gained during the tournament will help them in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
“Afghanistan's T20 team is fantastic. They play the T20 format really well. Also, the team got a lot of experience after playing in the ODI World Cup 2023 in India. He understood his shortcomings as well as his strengths,” the Afghan told News 18 CricketNext.
The Afghan also recalled a once-in-the-blue-moon match in Bengaluru that saw two super overs before a winner was decided.
“If you look at the bilateral series (India vs Afghanistan), the Afghanistan team took it to the second super over. They gave them a tough fight,” he said.
“Also, when the team plays the T20 World Cup 2024, they will be aware of the strengths and weaknesses. The World Cup will be held in the United States and West Indies where there will be support for spinners on the tracks. I believe this is a chance for Afghanistan to make a mark and they have the potential to reach the semi-finals. We should have reached the semi-finals in the ODI World Cup also.
Afghanistan performed brilliantly against strong teams like England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during the ODI World Cup. Before Maxwell's unimaginable performance, the Asian team was also on its way to defeat Australia.
They had scored 291/5 in 50 overs and also managed to take early wickets before Glenn Maxwell's batting masterclass and the first double century of the chase took the game away from Afghanistan.
When asked about that particular game, the Afghan admitted that the team was feeling a little relaxed after taking the wicket, but he also said that it would prove to be a major learning opportunity for all the players.
“Look, your captaincy is judged when you are defending the total. I think Afghanistan has become a little lax which is not right. You can't really take things easy until the game is over. We then faltered technically and tactically. But again it is part and parcel of the game and that is how you gain experience and learn.”
'Afghanistan has a lot of potential when it comes to Test cricket'
Despite gaining Test status a few years ago, Afghanistan have not actually played many matches in the longest format. The former captain believes that the team has a lot of talent to showcase in the Test.
“Test cricket is a very important format. It helps you create experiences. We have performed very well in the opportunities we have got. I believe the ICC and other boards should come together and allow us to play some more Test cricket. I can guarantee you, the Afghan team has a lot of potential when it comes to Test cricket,” the 37-year-old explained.
playing asian legends league
Asghar expressed his happiness to be a part of the Asian Legends League and represent his country in the upcoming tournament.
“Look, I have played a lot of veteran leagues. But this Asian Legends League is going to be a big tournament because players will represent their country in it. When you play for a franchise the pace is a little different. But here we will play for the country and it is a different feeling.