Afghanistan impress, but batting needs work
Afghanistan's first foray into top-flight ODI cricket ended meekly but they will take a lot out of their performance in the Asia Cup. For starters, they will enter the World Twenty20 in two weeks time a more prepared and aware outfit.
After impressing with the ball against Pakistan, Afghanistan comprehensively beat Bangladesh, a historic first win in only their fourth game against a Test-playing nation. They were spirited in the field against Sri Lanka but the batting was a let-down in that game, as it was in their final league game against India, which they lost by eight wickets.
Afghanistan's problem is in facing spin bowling, and India's Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Amit Mishra accounted for eight of their wickets for 82 runs. However, their overall performance in Bangladesh left the Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi encouraged.
"We didn't come to win the Asia Cup but to learn a lot from the Test nations," Nabi said. "We won against Bangladesh, which is a big credit to Afghanistan. We have done well with bowling and fielding. Our batting in the middle part has to improve, and we will try harder.
"We tried to fight against them but Jadeja and Ashwin bowled really well in the first half. They found a lot of turn. In the second innings there was no turn. Score of 159 wasn't good enough to threaten India. But we are learning how to bat for 50 overs."
Asghar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari each made more than 150 runs in four innings. Noor Ali Zadran, Nawroz Mangal and Nabi, however, didn't make a big score, and Mohammad Shahzad and Najibullah Zadran averaged only 10 and 9.50 respectively.
Having made it to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Afghanistan will be keen to improve their batting and Nabi said they could employ a batting coach from either of the host countries.
"We have come to world cricket just a while ago. We need time," he said. "We have a lot of camps before the 2015 World Cup, and we will bring a batting coach from Australia or New Zealand as well."
Afghanistan's biggest strength is their bowling attack, particularly its variety and consistency. Their quicks have impressed but it will be important to maintain their fitness. "We have time to rest after the World T20s for two or three weeks," Nabi said. "We have six-week fitness camp thereafter."
Afghanistan will now travel to Chittagong to play two warm-up T20 matches, and return to Dhaka for the World T20 opener against Bangladesh on March 16, a match that is foremost in Nabi's mind.
"I think we are a better T20 side, because we play a lot of this format against Associate members and also in Afghanistan. Already Bangladesh is under pressure against Afghanistan, we will try our best to beat them."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here