Afghanistan v Nepal, World T20, Group A, Chittagong March 19, 2014

Afghanistan's 'one percent chance'


The long shot has a special place in the heart of most sports fans. Not to mention the underdog that bites. For Afghanistan to get through to the next round of the World T20 and continue menacing the established sides, they will need to grasp a "one percent chance", according to their coach, Kabir Khan. It may even be smaller than that.

Afghanistan, who many fancied to cause an upset in the opening match of the tournament, will need several improbables to go their way if they are to deny Bangladesh top spot in the group. The hosts have won two from two with plenty to spare and now face Hong Kong, whose record so far is as bad as Bangladesh's is good. Even a landslide win for Afghanistan over a more-than-handy Nepal would require Hong Kong to mete out an extraordinarily unlikely thrashing of their own.

Kabir can only focus on the job at hand for his team. "Every match is important and we want to win, obviously now we are in a position to plan to win with big margins," he said. "Cricket is a funny game and we are expecting a one percent chance of anybody beating Bangladesh here. But if someone beats Bangladesh, we have to keep our chances alive, at least the run rate should be higher and if that happens and our run rate is there, then we could qualify."

Afghanistan are currently third behind Nepal on NRR, after contrasting fortunes on the first day. The run rate situation means that Nepal are actually better placed to go through should Bangladesh slip up and consequently will be expected to push Afghanistan hard. Had Kabir's team beaten Hong Kong more heavily on Tuesday, the equation may have been more in their favour but he said the batsman had been following instructions only to unleash towards the end.

"In respect of Bangladesh getting beaten, we had to put ourselves in a position where we could win and then you go for the plan to get your run rate better," he said. "We wanted to keep wickets in hand and then, at a stage that we were in control, we wanted to finish the match early. So that's the sort of thing you do in T20, you get yourself in a position of control and then you dominate."

Shafiqullah's 24-ball half-century, to follow up a slightly more measured (by his own standards) 68 from Mohammad Shahzad, suggested they could have started the domination a little earlier.

Their best chance may be to bowl Nepal out cheaply - no mean feat after their fellow Associate resisted all 20 overs for the loss of just five wickets against Bangladesh - and then race past the target. Afghanistan certainly have the firepower in their attack, which will be the quickest Nepal have faced on a lively Chittagong surface, although such riches may have inadvertently undermined their chances of progression. Kabir suggested, with a grin, that the beating Bangladesh took in the Asia Cup earlier this month had triggered a defensive posture by the hosts.

"We have good-quality fast bowlers, we train them like that, they are aggressive and everybody knows that our fast-bowling attack is very good, especially at Associate standard and sometimes at Test standard. In the Asia Cup, the bowling was very all together and I think that's why the Mirpur wicket was a bit slow."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on March 20, 2014, 10:42 GMT

    The comment of the Afghan captain is nothing but arrogance, which nobody likes. their arrogance will never create support. A lot of Bangladeshis though not wisely support Pakistan. same could have been true for the Afghans but they themselves are to blame from being driffted away from this support. I myself will always be against this rude team who do not know how to behave. it took years for Bangladesh to achieve some sort of respect, you can't get it over night. remember we now have the world's no.1 test allrounder, we have atleast 4 batsmen in the top 35 list. so be realistic and learn through mutual respect.

  • Monjur on March 20, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    By beating PAK ofcourse! Thanks to PAK for all the threats of not participating in Asia cup under security reasons. A heartfelt thanks to all cricket nations, fans and media in helping florishing BD cricket. Without your help we couldn't have progressed so far. We are thankful, we are proud to be with you and we are looking forward to be with you.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    If afghan team exist with the help of Pakistan so do Bangladesh. I have played cricket all my life I know how things works I mean 1999 world cup. You know what I am talking about

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    As a Pakistani to All BD fans.... I would like to tell learn how to bowl to Afridi.... ur team was not able to defend 327..... I remmber most of the BD fans were crying.... Afghanistan had so many matches with PAK... Afridi was including in most of the matches.... he was not able to hit any single 6 so far... whenever Afridi comes to crease... BD tigers become BD ...... Try to find some pacer like afghan...otherwise he is going to make another record against BD... and my suggestion to BD fans don't watch PakVSBD match....

  • Monjur on March 20, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    Nothing personal, overall people want peace and entertainment in sports, not arrogance and threat! Whether it be Afgan players or the players from the moon, they should be avoided. No doubt that's the future if rough attitude doesn't change.

  • Android on March 20, 2014, 8:44 GMT

    Monjur_Elahi too much hatred against afgan bro.very bad.u even said to ban afgan from playing domestic league in bd.this type of talking will hurt afgan fans a afgan guy here just made a peaceful approach and now u r messing things up.just stop bashing anyone.they LOVE their country.please have a friendly attitude.

  • Smart on March 20, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    @ Mohammad_Yasa - Please read again! I said 'a couple of AFG players have been acting WEIRD' - not all of them! With all due respect to AFG, I also meant NEP so far showed better sportsmanship than AFG. Probably ESPNCricInfo can do a POLL. We understand AFG people have been through a lot - I am not sure how many nations could survive all that. Years of Wars have made them known as FIGHTERS, but Cricket wants players to express their FIGHTING SPIRIT only via bat, ball and fielding. No need to make it look like WWE. Isn't Cricket a gentlemen's game? May be not anymore...

  • Monjur on March 20, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    AFG ungratitudive nature has already been noticed. They are all dependent on PAK and without PAK support they don't exist. Yet some fans were saying defying staffs against PAK team in a match report during Asia Cup. Much ado about nothing. The BPL authority seriously need to consider not recruiting any AFG players in the future and instead support the Nepalise who are friendly. We should promote good education, sane logic and not arrogance in cricket. The associates are still infants and they still have a lot to learn from BD. If AFG is not able to take it, therebare other teams who will. If AFG continues in this manner, PAK will probably be annoyed and that will mean end of stories for AFG!

  • Mohammad on March 20, 2014, 6:33 GMT

    @Click_Click_Cricket. You've said What I wanted to. But for RESPECT, I'll tell you that Afghan Players RESPECT other teams and good players more than any other team.Afghan players are very modest and friendly, you can ask BD fans who have met Afghan players during BPL, ASIA CUP or recently. By Bowling a bouncer and Staring at batsman, one can't say that the bowler doesn't respect his opponent. For SPIN friendly pitches, it is the coach's fault, he should have selected playing XI according to the conditions, but we know that Afghanistan isn't at the level of beating TEST teams easily or even BEATing them, so they shouldn't be overconfident and I AGREE WITH YOU. What we expect from them is giving tough time to the opponents and they did it a couple of times in ASIA CUP.

  • Smart on March 20, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    @ Abir Rahman - Calm down, man! Nobody is talking about MONEY here. BD players do not have much money except two or three.

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