Afghanistan v India, World T20 2012, Group A September 20, 2012

Inexperience the difference, says Afghanistan coach


While India were expected to win, Afghanistan were supposed to display the spark and fight that have made them a top second-rung team. They are the underdogs everyone loves. Almost every wicket they took and boundary they struck was cheered in the press box - the loudest reserved for Mohammad Shahzad's promised helicopter shot.

Their captain Nawroz Mangal had said before the game that Afghanistan wanted to compete, and prove that they belong to the top level. And compete they did. For more than three-quarters of the match, they kept up with India, refusing to let them get ahead and jolting them repeatedly. But their inexperience showed when they were found wanting at critical moments - dropping several catches, failing to keep wickets intact for a late charge, and so on.

Kabir Khan, the Afghanistan coach, acknowledged the slip-ups but said his side had had a chance of upsetting India.

"We made a few mistakes on the field. The boys dropped a few catches," Kabir said. "That could have reduced India's total by at least 15-20 runs. And while batting, at some stages we were well in the game but then we lost a couple of wickets in a very short time. Overall, I would say our team played much better compared to the last World Twenty20 game against India [in 2010]. I think we have impressed them. Our performance was impressive but we could have done better."

Kabir didn't think the dropped chances had a huge impact on the total India managed, saying that their batting depth would have bailed them out anyway. "Had we taken those catches, it would have meant one quality batsman following another. They would have scored at least 140 in any case. Sometimes in cricket, you take one wicket, you follow it up with some more wickets. But the way we started, I thought even 160 was chaseable. If we had batted a little sensibly, we could have achieved it."

Afghanistan had planned to target the part-timer with India going in with four specialist bowlers, but Yuvraj Singh ended up taking three crucial wickets. "We knew they were one bowler short as they were playing with four bowlers. We were looking to play Ashwin a bit defensively and not give him wickets because he was the only one who was going to create problems on that wicket because it was not supporting pace bowlers at all. There was a chance. We thought if we played Ashwin well and scored off the other bowlers, and cashed in on the four overs to be bowled by the non-regular bowler, we had a very good chance."

They had a sniff alright. Virat Kohli felt Afghanistan were tricky opponents for India to face. "They had nothing to lose so that too is a big factor which is not discussed much, that when you are playing against a team that is ranked lower they have nothing to lose," Kohli said. "When they come out to bowl they will go all out and the same applies to their batting. They will come out and play their shots and if they can execute them then it is a problem for the bowling side."

In the end, though, Kabir felt Afghanistan's lack of exposure at the highest level - this was only their fifth international game against a Test-playing side - was the difference.

"That's a factor because those boys are not exposed to international cricket."

"Just the sheer pressure of playing the side we were playing, the crowd, the cameras... it all came together. I have to point out that those who dropped catches are very good fielders. I think the pressure factor came into it. India as a big team knows how to handle pressure. Then again, we also play less international cricket, and less against the top teams. We played India only twice in two years but if we had played them five or six times, the result could have been different."

The day when it actually is different may not be far off, provided Afghanistan are given the opportunities they deserve.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sunny on September 21, 2012, 12:49 GMT

    I wish India would lend its support to the devlopment of Afghan cricket just like they supported SL during its early days.But with BCCI becoming so myopic i dont expect the same support.....just hope Afganistan develops into a good cricketing nation.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    Wicky ROy or whatever....we Afghans are not Pak B Team.. Afghanistan and India are the biggest Nations in Asia in terms of history and Pakistan are only 60 years old country so I feel ashamed to be called under their names. about this game we entertained India and could have finished very close but game is a game. India will surely win this tournament and I hope they do. Afg are having one more against England and I hope we make an upset otherwise with three years cricket history of my country I will still be proud the way we fought with two champions in our group. Love you Afghanistan.

  • Manesh on September 21, 2012, 5:50 GMT

    @WickyRoy.paklover. It will be more funny once the pak C team BD beat you are reach can laugh at that time. Asia cup final will hunt you.

  • Andrew on September 21, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    @KiwiRocker- on (September 20 2012, 10:21 AM GMT) - yay, the LITTLE man strikes again! Such intelligence is outstanding! It amazes me that you can actually think & type at the same time!

  • Andrew on September 21, 2012, 1:25 GMT

    @shaantanu on (September 20 2012, 08:12 AM GMT) - agreed. T20 is a great format to expose developing countries to the sport of cricket. Tests are the supreme format. When Kenya whithered on the vine, the ICC really got proactive & started on pathways for sides to improve (Intercontinental Cup) & The many levels of the WCL. It clearly works as Afghanistan came for WCL 7, to become the first Afiliate to get ODI status. Ireland & Afghanistan are by no means anywhere near as good as the top 4 to 6 test nations, (particularly in a Test environment), however, they are showing more & more, that they have the ability to compete with Zimbabwe (in particular) & Bangladesh. I would imagine for Zim & Bang fans - they would like to see their team play against Ire & Zim as they stand a better chance of winning& it can boost a players confidence for when they play higher ranked teams!

  • Rajeev on September 20, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    @Raidu99: If you think that SA started as minnows when they came back or rather re-admitted into international cricket, then I'm afraid you do not know your cricket history...

  • Naren on September 20, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    I think Afgans had played well. Its just the matter of 20 overs and they've put all of it into the match. Any other team might have faced the same situation. But when it comes to talent that either side have, Afgans are no where near. Had they not gotten rid of Virender Sehwag in the early overs, the story would've been different. On his day, Sehwag alone can answer to all the players in Afganistan.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    Not Correctly said by AFG coach..Indian batsmen were not gone all out..fell only 5 wickets..we have better batsmen in the lower order..Irfan can play well till the lower order..It is acceptable that had bit disappoint on indan bowling..senior Zaheer is out form..But we can manage with spinners..BUT HOPES are ALIVE!! COME ON INDIA..

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 18:00 GMT

    Love Afghan team, The big teams now know that they have a threat now

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    Its like a practice match for team India only...They don't have to worry for such underdog teams...They should prepare for semifinal & final now....

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