Captain Gulbadin Naib termed Jasprit Bumrah’s two-wicket burst in the 29th over as the actual game-changer in Afghanistan’s narrow 11-run loss to India during a tense World Cup clash in Southampton on Saturday.
Bumrah took two wickets in three balls as Afghanistan slipped from 106/2 to 106/4 and that had a big impact in the game, despite Mohammed Nabi’s fighting half-century. The India pacer also bowled a splendid 49th over, conceding only five runs.
Naib expressed his displeasure at the mistakes in shot selection from experienced players like Rashid Khan and Najibullah Zadran. He said that the duo should have hung around supporting Nabi.
“Credit goes to Bumrah’s spell (referring to the 29th over). He is world’s No 1 bowler and he bowled really well,” Naib said at the post-match media conference.
“Mohammed Shami also bowled very well in the last over. Najib [Zadran] and Rashid [Khan] made mistakes but credit goes to the Indian bowling side,” Naib added.
Afghanistan batsman Rahmat Shah said the defeat was down to his and Hashmatullah Shahidi’s dismissal.
“Those two wickets by Bumrah changed the game completely. Those were good deliveries. We didn’t gift our wickets. It was Bumrah, who got them,” Rahmat said.
Naib, however, was happy about how the team’s batting has shown signs of improvement in the last two games and those were the main positives.
“The first four games that we played, we lost really badly. We played against England which is a strong side and India, the other favourites in the tournament.
“So I think we are now getting better and better day by day. This is what I actually wanted from the team. So this is a good sign,” said the skipper.
He admitted that Indian bowlers didn’t give them a single chance when they were batting.
Rashid, who had recorded the tournament’s worst bowling figures against England in the last game, got the better of MS Dhoni, while Mujeeb ur Rahman also shone bright, dismissing opener Rohit Sharma early on. Naib was pleased to see that his top spinners were back in form going into their last three games.
“The good thing is that Rashid and Mujeeb were back in form. So they bowled really well. We planned really well for Dhoni and [Kedar] Jadhav.
“The wicket wasn’t good for batting in the first half. The ball was turning and when the ball turns, it is difficult to play Rashid. But Jadhav and Dhoni had a good partnership in the middle and that also changed the game. Initially, we thought we could get them out for 170, 180 but it changed,” he concluded.
(with PTI inputs)
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