Afghanistan at Asia Cup - The King of Upsets
If there is one team that deserves the title of "King of Upsets" at present, it would be Afghanistan. In the 2018 Asia Cup, they created history by reaching the Asia Cup Super Four Stage. It was not that they somehow managed to scrape through, they did it in style defeating Sri Lanka & Bangladesh.
Afghanistan first appeared in the 2014 edition of the Asia Cup. Though they lost 3 of their 4 matches. They caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament when they defeated Bangladesh, a test playing nation in the group stage. Afghanistan at that time was a non-test playing nation. This win ensured that Afghanistan did not finish at the bottom of the table, a big achievement for a country playing in a tournament where all other teams apart from them had test-playing nation status.
Their second appearance in the Asia Cup was in the 2018 edition. They began the tournament in style, defeating Sri Lanka by a margin of 91 runs. If people had any doubt that this win was a lucky one or by fluke, their doubts would be removed in the second match. In the next match, Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh by a margin of 136 runs. They qualified for the Super Four Stage defeating two of the so-called stronger teams. A feat many thought was impossible.
Though they could not win any matches in the Super Four Stage, they put up one strong show after another. Both, their matches against Bangladesh & Pakistan went down the wire. The results of both the matches were decided in the last over. In the third match against India, they managed to do what no other team did in the 2018 edition of the Asia Cup - getting points off India when they managed to tie the match. The tournament may have been won by India, but the Afghanistan team definitely won everyone's hearts.
Let us take a look at some of the facts and figures of the Afghanistan Cricket Team in the Asia Cup:
• Mohammed Shahzad with 268 runs is the highest run-getter for Afghanistan in the Asia Cup.
• Mohammed Shahzad’s 124 against India in the 2018 Asia Cup is Afghanistan’s highest individual score in the Asia Cup.
• Hashmatullah Shahidi has scored the highest number of half-centuries for Afghanistan in the Asia Cup – 3.
• Rashid Khan with 10 wickets was the leading wicket-taker in the Asia Cup 2018.
• Mohammad Nabi’s 3/44 from 9.4 overs at an economy of 4.55 against Bangladesh in the 2014 Asia Cup is the best bowling performance by an Afghanistan player.
• Afghanistan’s 257/6 against Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup is their highest batting total in the tournament.
Afghanistan definitely has the talent, it's just a matter of time and experience that they take their cricket to the next level. We might just have witnessed the birth of another cricketing power in Asia.