Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said that his side would learn from their seven-wicket humbling by Australia on Saturday as they seek to regroup for the rest of their World Cup campaign.
The rank outsiders at the tournament in England and Wales had a terrible start against the defending champions in Bristol, slumping to 5-2, with both openers out for nought.
They fought back bravely, with 43 from Rahmat Shah and 51 from Najibullah Zadran, but were still dismissed for 207 with more than 11 overs to spare.
Australia romped to victory in the 35th over of their innings, David Warner top-scoring with 89 not out.
Naib said that his side did not get the momentum they needed at the start of the innings because they lost early wickets, saying that they could not afford to cede the initiative against strong sides.
“Definitely, we can play against these kinds of teams, so you should take positive things from them,” he said. “Obviously, we have a tough match upcoming. Every team, especially for us, is a tough team, so we are just waiting for our turn. These kinds of teams, they don’t give you a single chance, but they are coming really hard. We just look and we just take a positive thing from today.”
Naib welcomed the vocal support for the Afghan team from the crowd, who booed and jeered both Warner and Steve Smith on their return to official international cricket after ball-tampering bans.
“Obviously, if you have this kind of audience and they are supporting you and you know they are on your side, you take a lot of positive things,” the skipper added. “So the crowd all support Afghanistan and there was a huge number of Afghans in the crowd there, so it gave a lot of energy on the ground for the boys.”
Zadran said that the morale of Afghanistan, playing at just their second World Cup, remained intact despite this heavy defeat, as they looked forward to their second match against Sri Lanka tomorrow.
“We are a good side, we have good spinners and a lot of matches remaining,” Zadran said.
NEW ZEALAND VS SRI LANKA
New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill said that their pace attack forged a blueprint they would seek to follow for the rest of the World Cup after dismantling the Sri Lankan batting order in Saturday’s opening win in Cardiff.
New Zealand fast bowlers Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson took three wickets each as the pair made full use of seamer-friendly conditions in the opening hour to spark a batting collapse, as Sri Lanka were dismissed for just 136 on the way to losing by 10 wickets.
Guptill and Colin Munro made light work of the chase, but it was the pace attack that could make a difference as New Zealand bid to go one better after losing to Australia in the 2015 final.
“You want to build that momentum early at a major event and today we did that,” said Guptill, who finished with an unbeaten 73. “If we bowl first in the next few games, we’ll back ourselves to make it difficult to score on the back of this performance. The beauty about our guys is they can exploit conditions quite regularly.”
Guptill hailed Henry’s spell of 3-29, which saw him strike twice in the ninth over to remove Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis and expose the Sri Lankan middle order.
Henry, who took the new ball instead of the injured Tim Southee, faced criticism after conceding 109 in nine overs against West Indies in a warm-up game on Tuesday.
“Matt had a tough time against the West Indies ... but bowling to that lot is pretty difficult,” Guptill said. “They can put you out of the park pretty readily. Having seen him put the ball in the right areas for long enough, it’s good to see him get the rewards he deserves.”
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