Asia Cup 2014 February 28, 2014

Afghanistan's statement of intent

'Dropped catch cost us the game' - Kabir Khan

Afghanistan's maiden Asia Cup match, in which they gave Pakistan a small scare before losing by 72 runs, was a statement of intent to their next opponent, Bangladesh, according to their coach Kabir Khan. Afghanistan play Bangladesh in the Asia Cup on March 1, before playing them again in the first round of the World Twenty20.

"We are thinking of our World Twenty20 match against them [Bangladesh]," Kabir said. "We have to beat them to move to the second round. We want to put extra pressure on them.

"Everyone in this team wants to win. They know how much one win can change the team and the nation. Our cause is different than the four other teams who have come here to be champions. We are here to change the future of our nation for the next 10 years."

Afghanistan performed creditably against Pakistan, reducing them to 117 for 6 in the 30th over. Kabir said the next significant event in the game made all the difference. On 28, Umar Akmal skied a ball from Shapoor Zadran towards point, were Samiullah Shenwari dropped it. Akmal made his second ODI hundred to take Pakistan to 248 for 8.

"If we got them out for cheaper and if the dew factors came in, it would have been easy for us to chase the runs," Kabir said. "Unluckily, the dew factor didn't come in [today]. The turning point was the drop catch.

"I think if he [Shenwari] had caught that catch, that would have been the turning factor. I am happy with the team the way they bowled. If you see the first two matches, there were scores close to 300 and that was chased down. This is the first time for our team in the Asia Cup and they reduced a world class team to 250 runs."

Kabir was happy with the way his team played overall. Noor Ali Zadran, Asghar Stanikzai and Nawroz Mangal were steady with the bat, showing much-needed solidity for an Associate nation with little experience on a big stage.

"They are my heroes, whether they win or lose," Kabir said. "We have come a long way in five or six years with the facilities we have. Doing so well against teams who have a lot more facilities and money, it makes me proud.

"We put pressure on them today. The Pakistan players and officials had high blood pressure till about the last ten overs of the game."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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