Captain Babar Azam rued Pakistan’s failure to put pressure on Afghanistan with spin in Monday’s eight-wicket loss at the World Cup.
Spinners took no wickets in Chennai as their combined 21 overs conceded 6.23 runs an over. Afghanistan chased down the target of 283 with eight wickets to spare. It was also their first victory over Pakistan in eight One Day International (ODI) matches.
Spinners have taken only one wicket for Pakistan in the last three matches, all of which the 1992 champions lost as they fell to fifth place.
“In the middle overs, the spinners didn’t bowl as they should have. They didn’t put pressure on (the opponents),” a dejected Babar told reporters.
“When we came here, I saw that the margin of error is very low for bowlers. If you bowl a little bit away from the wicket, you will get hit on that ball. So, we are lacking there a little bit,” he said.
In contrast, Afghan spinners bowled a combined 38 overs and picked up four crucial wickets at an economy rate of 4.63; one of the highest uses of spin by any team in World Cup history.
Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott said the pitch conditions favoured spinners.
“I think when you’ve got the options like we do it’s foolish not to use them, certainly when looking at that pitch today,” he said.
Trott particularly praised 18-year-old Noor Ahmad who took three major wickets in his World Cup debut, giving away just 49 runs in his 10 overs.
“As soon as he got that length right, he spins the ball so much,” the coach said.
“When he’s practising, you hear that ball fizzing,” he said.
Afghan spinners also played a key role in their shock 69-run win over defending champions England earlier in the tournament, taking eight wickets with Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan claiming three each.
The two wins helped propel the Afghans from the bottom of the table to sixth place.
A turnaround was still possible for Pakistan, Babar said.
“You never know. It’s cricket. Anything can happen. We will try to play our best cricket till the end,” he added.
“We will try to overcome our mistakes,” he said.
Pakistan will stay in Chennai to face South Africa on Friday, while Afghanistan play Sri Lanka in Pune on Sunday.
Historic win over Pakistan will have ‘great ripple effect’, says Trott
The win over Pakistan will cause a ripple effect in Afghan cricket and inspire future players, Trott said.
“This will have a great ripple effect,” Trott told reporters. “I want to make sure that (the players)… pass it on and remember that game in Chennai when we chased on 283 against Pakistan.”
The Englishman called the 130-run opening partnership put on by Rehmanullah Gurbaz (65) and Ibrahim Zadran (87) the “turning point” and praised Rahmat Shah, who played through several cramps to help steady the game when the openers fell.
“You could easily … get a bit nervous or panicky … but shot that he played there to hit a straight six sort of broke the back of the game,” Trott said of Shah, who scored an unbeaten 77, 45 of which came from ones and twos.
“I will say to the players make sure you enjoy these victories but as soon as we (arrive in) Pune … take the confidence from the game and start looking forward to Sri Lanka,” Trott said.