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Afghanistan look to salvage pride in their last Asia Cup encounter

Raja
Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Super four: Shoaib Malik consoling Aftab Alam
Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Super four: Shoaib Malik consoling Aftab Alam

From being an associate nation 5 years ago to emerge as a Test-playing nation now, the journey of Afghanistan cricket team has been outstanding. Their rise in white ball cricket has been splendid too.

The past few days have been rough for Afghanistan Cricket. Going into the super four round, following some clinical performances in the group stage, Afghanistan proved themselves as a team which cannot be looked down upon. They were clinical in all departments and won both the matches by big margins. In their first group match, they took down 1996 World Champions Sri Lanka by massive 91 runs which resulted in the latter's elimination.

In their next fixture, they hammered Bangladesh by 136 runs with some superb all-round performance.

Owing to their supreme performances in group stages, they certainly looked one of the title contenders halfway through the tournament.

However, the inexperience of the Afghanistan team came to the fore as they failed to defend 10 off the last over against Pakistan and failed to score 8 in the last over against Bangladesh in the Super four stage.

In their first super four encounter, Shoaib Malik led Pakistan as he mustered spinners in the middle overs for singles and doubles while switching gears against the pacers in the final ten. With 10 required off the last over, Malik launched two consecutive boundaries to seal the deal for Pakistan. Aftab Alam was the bowler gutted who was left in tears after the match.

Afghanistan were chasing for the first time in the tournament in their next fixture against Bangladesh. Chasing 250, Afghanistan started poorly as they were reduced to 26-2. Explosive opener Mohammad Shehzad played a bizarre inning of 53 facing 81 deliveries.

Left to score 8 runs with the likes of Rashid and Shenwari at the crease, Afghanistan were clear favourites in the thriller.

However, they fell a tad short as Mustafizur bowled an outstanding last over to clinch the thriller for Bangladesh. These two close finishes resulted in Afghanistan's elimination and had they been on the other side of the result they were to play their first multination tournament final.

As of now, they are set to clash against India, the unbeaten team in the Asia Cup since the 2016 edition.

The clash may be inconsequential in the tournament's perspective but it may be a confidence booster for the inexperienced Afghanistan team.

India who are already through to the final may test their bench strength against Afghanistan.

Afghanistan too would like to finish strongly in their Asia Cup campaign.

So the last super four fixture of both teams promises to be more than a dead rubber.

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Edited by Kishan Prasad
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