The upcoming Asia Cup 2023 is set to feature Afghanistan, a team that has rapidly climbed the ranks in international cricket. Demonstrating their capabilities, they’ve defeated teams like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and given tough competition to powerhouses like India and Pakistan.
In the 2022 edition, they showcased their fighting spirit by making it to the finals but narrowly missed out on the championship against Pakistan and India. In the 2023 tournament, Afghanistan finds itself in Group B, a formidable grouping alongside Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
This group is widely recognized as the tougher of the two, given Sri Lanka’s previous championship win and Bangladesh’s strong runner-up records. Overcoming these rivals to secure a spot in the Super 4 would be a significant accomplishment for Afghanistan.
Let’s have a look at the SWOT analysis of Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s dominant assets lie within their formidable top-order batting and exceptional spin-bowling prowess. In terms of batting, Rahmatullah Gurbaz, their adept wicketkeeper-batsman, possesses the remarkable ability to dismantle any bowling attack that comes his way.
Complementing this prowess is Afghanistan’s impressive spin bowling contingent, featuring two illustrious spinners reigning in the top echelons of the ODI rankings. Notably, off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman commands a remarkable third-place standing, while the highly skilled leg-spinner Rashid Khan firmly holds the fourth spot. This formidable spin duo stands to gain significant advantage from the conditions prevalent in Asian settings, which invariably favour spin-oriented strategies.
Furthermore, Afghanistan’s strategic approach of playing their initial Group B encounters in Lahore prior to their transition to Sri Lanka (contingent on securing a spot among the top two teams) aligns seamlessly with their spin-oriented strengths. This geographical adjustment is anticipated to provide a favourable platform for their spinners to shine and potentially impose a serious threat upon their opponents.
In essence, Afghanistan’s prowess in top-order batting, epitomized by Rahmatullah Gurbaz, coupled with the potent spin-bowling tandem of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, makes them a force to be reckoned with. Their strategic alignment with spin-friendly conditions and venues further bolsters their potential to unsettle adversaries with their spin prowess.
As Afghanistan enters the Asia Cup, their tally for ODIs in the current year remains limited, standing at a mere nine encounters. Strikingly, all of these matches have been contested against fellow Asian nations, specifically Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Regrettably, their triumphs have been confined to just three instances within this series of contests.
What has notably hindered their progress is their recurrent inability to sustain their initial advantageous positions, which, in turn, has allowed their opponents to clinch narrow victories. A stark example of this was witnessed in the recent second ODI, where Pakistan managed a last-moment win on the penultimate ball.
Nevertheless, a glimmer of optimism arises from Afghanistan’s recent achievement in securing their inaugural bilateral series victory against Bangladesh, a feat accomplished just the previous month.
This notable accomplishment serves to instill a renewed sense of confidence as they gear up to engage in battle against both the Bangladesh team, often referred to as the “Tigers,” and Sri Lanka. These confrontations hold the key to determining which teams will proceed to the Super Four stage of the competition.
Participating in this Asia Cup marks only the third instance of Afghanistan’s presence in the 50-over cricket format, a journey that commenced in March 2014 and saw a subsequent appearance in September 2018. Within these limited experiences, their record reveals three victories, five losses, and one match ending in a draw.
Despite the impression that they have had an extended presence, Afghanistan’s evolution in the realm of One Day Internationals (ODIs) is still within the developmental phase. Their overall ODI count recently reached a milestone, as they completed their 150th ODI during the conclusive match against Pakistan the past weekend.
Dedicated to nurturing emerging talents, Afghanistan has been diligent in identifying promising players and affording them opportunities to shine. This approach is harmoniously balanced by the contributions of their seasoned professionals, with standout figures such as Rashid Khan, who holds the distinction of being Afghanistan’s highest wicket-taker with an impressive tally of 170 wickets.
This collective effort, blending youthful potential with the guidance of experienced campaigners, has effectively cemented Afghanistan’s position among the upper echelons of elite ODI nations.
Afghanistan’s struggles lie in their challenge to successfully conclude matches when in favourable positions. Their difficulty in effectively closing out games that they seem poised to win poses a significant hurdle. A recurring issue that has plagued them is their tendency to concede a surplus of runs during the final overs of an innings, particularly when facing the lower-order batsmen of opposing teams. This vulnerability has been notably exemplified in instances such as the encounter with Pakistan’s Naseem Shah.
Equally concerning is the susceptibility of Afghanistan’s middle order to sudden collapses, a vulnerability they must vigilantly address. This predicament surfaces following promising beginnings, where the team establishes a strong foundation only to witness an abrupt tumble of wickets. This pattern underscores the importance of maintaining stability and consistency throughout the innings.
To thrive in international cricket, Afghanistan must confront these challenges head-on. Rectifying their difficulties in sealing victories from advantageous positions and shoring up their performance in both the death overs and the middle-order are critical steps toward achieving more consistent and successful outcomes on the field.
Asia Cup 2023: Afghanistan Squad
The squad is yet to be announced.