Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 3, 2014

Afghanistan bowlers grab all the attention

Despite losing by 129 runs, Afghanistan's bowling won the praise of Angelo Mathews who was impressed by two factors that have been noticed since the first game: variety and control

Afghanistan's bowling attack has shown the potential of grabbing the viewers' attention and keeping it for three-and-a-half hours. Its variety and control has been quite evident in the three Asia Cup matches and with some more tweaks, it could be a decisive factor in the near future.

The attack has usually carried two out-and-out fast bowlers, one left-arm and one right-arm, who have been quite effective with the new ball, but has work to do in the death overs. They keep a medium-pacer who offers pace variation and seam movement, and can be the right option if either of the quicker bowlers starts off poorly.

They have three types of spinners with Hamza Hotak doing the controller's job with his left-arm spin, Samiullah Shenwari bowling accurate legbreaks, and offspinner Mohammad Nabi generating turn with his slightly round-arm action. He bowls innocuously at times, but is perhaps the most attacking of the spinners.

Despite losing by 129 runs, they won the praise of Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews who was impressed by the two factors that have been noticed since the first game: variety and control.

"Their bowling attack is very good," Mathews said. "They are as good as the other teams as well. Really good fast bowlers, and some really good spinners, so it wasn't very easy for us to score off them as well, and the wicket was also pretty slow. But they gave us nothing away and we had to really work hard to get all the runs."

Their coach Kabir Khan said that the attack was chosen keeping the conditions in Bangladesh in mind. He hoped that their depth would continue to help their cause in the coming years, as it did against Sri Lanka when Nabi used eight bowlers.

"We support them [the spinners] every time and obviously Samiullah Shenwari is one of the main players we have got," Kabir said. "There's another legspinner, by the name of Rahmat Shah, sitting outside on the bench. He might get a chance against India because he's an equally good legspinner.

"We've got a very good young bunch and there is proper competition for places in the team as well. We drop someone and the team doesn't suffer too much. I think that is the beauty of our team. They're young and talented, and they replace each other very well."

Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran have been the revelations of this tournament while Hamid Hassan used his experience well against Bangladesh. Mirwais Ashraf, the medium-fast bowler, has been effective while the spin trio has shown that they can carry the attack too.

But there are areas that can be improved upon. Shapoor and Dawlat have to quickly measure up the dos and don'ts of bowling in the last ten overs. They have been attacked and have come up short on occasions.

Among the spinners, Hotak has to work a little more on his pivot as he tends to lean on either foot for balance in the delivery stride. The subtle difference should be spotted by the bowler himself, and by smoothening out the kink, he can bowl more comfortably and with a better push off the shoulders and use the flick of the wrist whenever he wants.

More control and guile, essentially gathered from playing matches at the highest level, will make them better bowlers. If they can be kept fit for the next 12 months, their potential can take the team further in the two major tournaments - World Twenty20 and 2015 World Cup.

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

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