How Afghanistan bungled up Super 4 chances with a miscalculation
Cricket can be funny and heartbreaking simultaneously, and another example was on display during the last few moments of the Afghanistan chase in Lahore yesterday. Despite a lion-hearted effort, the Afghan team failed to qualify for the next round due to miscalculation and ignorance.
Bowling first, Afghanistan restricted Sri Lanka to a total of 291/8 on a batting track. They had to chase down this total in 37.1 overs to eliminate Sri Lanka and get through the Super Four phase of the tournament. While the target was arduous, it was still within range.
For the first 19 overs, Afghanistan didn’t look to be getting any close to the target. They had lost four vital wickets while scoring only 121 at a run rate of 6.36. Remember, they had to proceed at 7.87 from the first over.
However, Mohammad Nabi, who had been out of touch for a while, unleashed carnage to keep the hopes alive. The veteran batter smashed Afghanistan’s fastest ODI fifty in just 24 balls and ended up scoring 65 off 32 balls, including six fours and five sixes. By the time Nabi got out, Afghanistan’s run rate shot up to 7.64 - almost identical to the required rate.
The batters following him tried their best and kept Afghanistan in the game throughout the very last ball. Rashid Khan made 12 runs in the penultimate over to bring down the equation to 3 runs off a solitary ball, with Mujeeb Ur Rahman on the strike.
Mujeeb tried hitting a boundary but could only find long-on, where Sadeera Samarawickrama was standing and lost his wicket. Then, the drama unfolded. With Afghanistan nine down, they thought that all their chances of qualifications were over. Rashid’s dejected facial expressions and Fazalhaq Farooqi’s batting attitude confirmed it.
Once they didn't make it in 37.1 - the equation was— Krishna Kumar (@KrishnaKRM) September 5, 2023
Farooqi should have taken a single and Rashid hit a four before 37.5, or a six before 38.0
However, Afghanistan still had a chance, a feasible one. Afghanistan had to reach 295 in 37.4 overs - which means getting six runs off three deliveries or hitting a six before the 38th over to get through. With Rashid Khan at the other end, at 27 off 16 balls, both scenarios were achievable.
All Farooqi had to do was take a single and bring Rashid to complete the required task. But, shockingly, Afghanistan weren’t aware of this for some reason. They had already given up, with their dressing room disappointed beyond explanation.
Farooqi tried to block everything coming his way, probably to salvage pride and earn a win. He couldn’t defend more than two, as Dhananjaya de Silva dismissed him on the third delivery (37.4) to get out of jail and register a 2-run win to qualify.
Rashid Khan looked in superb touch, and he would have done another improbable stuff like he always does on the field. Who knows? It was just a matter of a single boundary, after all.
While Deep Dasgupta didn’t ask the Afghan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi in the post-match presentation, it was pretty evident they weren’t aware of all the mentioned scenarios. Later, their head coach, Jonathan Trott, confirmed that they didn’t know about this in the post-match press conference. It was a blunder, a massive one.
Despite doing all the hard yards, Afghanistan couldn’t make it due to not having proper knowledge of the qualification scenario. The team analyst will be scrutinised. Afghanistan will feel hard done by.
They had a chance to create history and register their name among the memorable moments. More importantly, Afghanistan could have advanced to the next stage of the tournament.
They have seen several lows in the last few years, but this one tops any of those heartbreaks. Imagine not qualifying for the next stage due to a miscalculation. South Africa can definitely relate.