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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Madu on March 4, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    As an SL fan,I was very impressed with Afgan's bowling,they gave us a good scare. I was really worried about how SL will score from their bowling eventhough they managed to get 254. Afgan batting needs to improve. It's nice to see a new member in the Asian cricketing family,the region will become more competitive now. I hope the western world also follows suit. It was admirable of Mathews and Sanga to praise the Afgan bowling.They now a gem when they see one and don't hesitate to mention it.That's why its called the 'gentlemen's game'. In that regard i'm proud of my team.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    happy to hear good things from srilanakan friends and indians afghanistan has good players but they should get more chances to play test playing nations to get more experience... a request from icc...

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    Well played Afghanistan,as a earlier comment made in this column India should lend them a batting coach and Afghanistan could lend them some bowlers xD

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    We only had problem bowling with same rhythm in death hours and that is because we don't have Hamid Hassan. If Nabi himself play those hours then we can finish the game with excellent bowling against any team. In this tournament I think we had the best collective bowling performance than other teams. Pakistan had excellent performance in Ajmal and Afridi and Sri Lanka in Malinga and Mendes. But collectively they come behind Afghanistan bowling. We need a world class batting coach no matter how much we spend on it, because that is the only area we are struggling. We have talented batsmen but a good coach will motivate them and take best out of them. Thanks to all Cricket fans in this website for giving our team the much credit and applauds they deserved. I hope we keep working hard and enjoy this game with you all in the future too.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 6:53 GMT

    Hope Afghanistan Will Keep Their Heads Strong, Not Get Tempted For IPL Offers. India Is Sure To Go After Them. Playing For Country Is More Worth Than Playing For Money. Take Care

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    India Should Buy Some Fast Bowlers From Afghanistan And In Return Lend Them A Batting Coach.

  • Ata on March 4, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    They should remove Shahzad as an opener, He throws his wkt, let him play down the order to accelerate runs in last overs. Muhammad Nabi should promote himself in batting.

  • ADARSH on March 4, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    A strong team in future if they dont mess up i.e is Afghanistan. They shd not b complacent to the praises they receive now. They shd try harder and harder to win matches. They impressed all with their performances and hope they wil get some gud exposure against strong teams b4 world cup. They must try to change their "VERY" defensive batting in middle overs by trying to preserve their wickets. They build run rate pressure on themselves and crumble by playing loose shots later. If they try to score well (4-6) runs and rotate the strike, it will be easy for them to chase or to post 260+ scores easily. Actually their very defensive-wicket preserving approach makes 250 score look like 300+ after 25 overs.

  • Lucky on March 4, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    As A Sri Lankan We Are Happy To See A New Team Like Afghanistan Performing So Well.They Have Already Won The Hearts Of Many People By Winning Against A Test Playing Nation. They Look A Very Colourful Team, And Very Passionate About The Game.The Bowling Very Good. They Need To Improve On The Batting And Fielding. I Think A Good Batting Coach Can Do The Fine Tuning. Their Fitness Level Is Among The Best. They Are Learning The Game Much Faster Than Some Of The Nations Who Started Playing Cricket. Good Luck To Afghanistan For The Future.

  • Lucky on March 4, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Nice To Hear Angelo Mathews Commenting On Afghanistans Performance, Very Rare From An International Captain, And Also Kumar Sangakkara Praised Them For Their Tight Bowling,Afghanistan Deserve All Credit. Proud Of Mathews.

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