Afghanistan easily beat Sri Lanka in the World Cup match in Pune on Monday and Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi was quick to attribute his team’s confidence to the triumphant run-chase against Pakistan.
Afghanistan chased down 242 against the Lankans in 45.2 overs, losing just three wickets, to post their first World Cup victory over the Islanders.
The match Shahidi was referring to was Afghanistan’s eight-wicket win over Babar Azam’s side in Chennai on October 23, when they overhauled 282 for the loss of two wickets.
“Pakistan chase gave us a lot of confidence and belief that we can chase any kind of target. We started really well in bowling (against SL) and the chase was very professional and I am very happy about it,” said Shahidi in the post-match presentation.
He revealed their coach, Jonathan Trott, changed his and the team’s mindset.
“Coaches are always positive. We worked very hard before the World Cup. Right now, all the coaching and management staff are working hard and giving us confidence.
“Before the Pakistan game, coach’s (Trott) words changed my and the team’s mindset a lot,” he added.
Shahidi scored an unbeaten fifty and shared a 111-run partnership with Azmatullah Omarzai for the unbroken fourth wicket alliance to take the Afghans home.
Shahidi was delighted to stay till the end and complete the chase.
“As a captain you should lead from the front, so I am trying my best. I am very happy that I finished the game and I will try to maintain that in upcoming games,” he said.
Shahidi also thanked the Indian spectators for turning up at stadiums and cheering for his team.
“I want to congratulate our nation and I thank Indian people for supporting us and coming to the stadiums.”
On star spinner Rashid Khan, who completed 100 ODIs, Shahidi said: “Rashid Khan is the best player and he is a very energetic guy, so the whole team is full of energy around him.”
Man of the match Fazal Farooqi, who grabbed four wickets, said the Afghan bowlers executed their variations well against Sri Lanka, especially in the death overs.
“We struggled in the past in the last overs…gave away too many runs. But we bowled with variations today and the hard work in net sessions helped. We tried to bowl as many variations as possible.”
Farooqi said he was just concentrating on hitting the right spots during his spell.
“I looked for swing early on but didn’t get it so then I kept it simple and hit the right areas and that was the plan for the spell and I got success in it,” he added.
Sri Lanka captain Kusal Mendis said 241 was a below par score and they should have put more runs on the board.
“We were a little bit short of runs. 240 was not enough on this pitch, 280-300 would have been a good score. Our bowlers did well in the first 10 overs, but dew came in and it became hard to bowl later.”
- World Cup 2023
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