Afghanistan have found a template to compete in ODI cricket, one that is likely to work fairly well in Asian conditions: bat first, find a way to score 250 (which they manage quite often) and then unleash their three spinners at different stages of the game.

It's incredible how their plan of set pieces falls into place so often. In Rahmat Shah, Ihsanullah and Hashmatullah Shahidi, they have the kind of batsmen who can bat through an ODI innings, while Mohammad Shahzad at the top, and Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan lower down can be trusted to provide the right impetus to the scoring rate.

Batsmen script most ODI wins, but for Afghanistan, the batsmen set up the game and the bowlers win it.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman
At 17, Mujeeb has not only mastered the art of bowling fairly difficult variations with good control, he has also understood when to use them. Earlier he had two main variations - a front-of-the-hand carrom ball and the (back-of-the-hand) googly. In the Asia Cup, he showcased another variation - a delivery that is flicked from the side of the hand and which swings into the right-hand batsman. That's the ball that dismissed Kusal Mendis for a duck. This latest variation is utilised best with the new ball since its success depends on the ball drifting in the air.

Mujeeb's control and efficiency in handling the new ball made him one of the most effective new-ball bowlers in this Asia Cup. Since there are seven fielders inside the circle during the Powerplay overs, there are no easy singles available, and it's hard for the batsmen to go over the field when they find it difficult to read Mujeeb out of the hand.

The moment the ball gets old, or if the pitch is sticky, his carrom ball - quick and flat in the air, like the flicker - becomes a handy variation. His googly is bowled like any legspinner's and is slow in the air.

The key to playing Mujeeb is to follow his hand at the point of release, or else the chances of playing him down the wrong line are high. Mujeeb is successful because even with all these variations, he seldom bowls a boundary ball.

Mohammad Nabi
Nabi is proof that an offspinner can succeed in white-ball cricket without bending the arm or bowling the carrom ball. He has a very orthodox action but his success comes through his subtle variations in speed and the angles in which the ball is bowled. He prefers to bowl a little slower to force the batsman to generate the pace, yet he varies the pace to ensure that he's not predictable. His biggest strength is his ability to lower his arm to different angles at the point of release, which not only changes the trajectory of the ball but also the response he gets from the pitch. It's not a surprise that he enjoys bowling round the stumps, for that position accentuates the angles he creates by lowering the bowling arm. While Nabi isn't a big turner of the ball, he manages to get enough off of the surface to prevent batsmen playing through the line; and he liberally uses the delivery that holds its line to keep the batsmen in check.

Mujeeb and Nabi squeeze the runs dry and set the stage for Rashid's entrance.

Rashid Khan
Rashid is a special bowler for a variety of reasons. There isn't much difference in his action between legbreaks and googlies - batsmen trying to read him see a lot of the back of his hand for both deliveries. He is also exceptionally quick in the air, so batsmen can't use their feet to come down the pitch to smother the spin. And he's fairly accurate in line for a legspinner. Even when he errs in length, his speeds, in the air and off the surface, make it difficult for the batsmen to take advantage.

Rashid is at his best when the batsman is forced to score off him, which is why he is used a lot in the last ten overs and not as much in the first 20. Since he bowls a length that's difficult to hit in the air down the ground without using your feet, the only viable option is to hit him across the line. But that opens up multiple dismissal options.

Left-handers tend to play him marginally better than right-handers, and the few right-handers who have found some success against him have played him like an offspinner. But that's easier said than done.

If Mujeeb is Afghanistan's best new-ball bowler, Rashid is their best death bowler, and that makes their bowling attack unique.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash