Former India player turned veteran commentator Aakash Chopra said that Afghanistan might have been strong candidates to reach the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup had they not lost their first match against Bangladesh. However, they registered a seven-wicket win in their league-phase clash against Sri Lanka in Pune on Monday, October 30. The win helped them move upto fifth position in the points table and kept their hopes of making it to the semi-final alive.
Reflecting on Afghanistan’s performance in the tournament in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Chopra added: “Afghanistan have won their third game. They first defeated England, then made Pakistan lick dust and now they have said tata bye-bye to Sri Lanka. They are not winning matches, they are dominating and winning convincingly. If they had not lost their first match to Bangladesh, they would have been serious contenders for the semi-final race.”
Chopra again shared: “Afghanistan – a team on the rise. We had discussed pre-tournament as well that you shouldn’t take Afghanistan lightly, that they are a good team who have good spinners and if they start scoring runs in batting, it would be difficult to beat this team. Interestingly enough, they are not winning based on spin.”
However, Aakash Chopra added that the win was based on their batting display as they chased down a 283-run target. He also added that their batting came to the fore against Sri Lanka as well in a 242-run chase in their last game. He also applauded Fazalhaq Farooqi for picking up crucial wickets against Sri Lanka. He also praised Azmatullah Omarzai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Ibrahim Zadran for playing vital roles.
“We had discussed yesterday that the Pune pitch has help for pacers. Keeping that in mind, the team played Fazalhaq Farooqi in place of Noor Ahmad. Farooqi picked up four wickets and all four players he dismissed had gotten off to starts. Whoever made runs was made to lick dust by him,” Aakash Chopra concluded. “Sri Lanka should have scored at least 285. They feel short by about 45 runs. They dismissed Rahmanullah Gurbaz but Ibrahim Zadran – I felt he would score 60-70, he didn’t score that many. Then Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, and Azmatullah Omarzai came when it felt like there could be a twist in the tale.”