Afghanistan may still be basking in the glory after its historic 69-run win over England in the ongoing World Cup, but skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi did not shy away from addressing his team’s underlying issues.
Speaking to the media ahead of the match against New Zealand here on Tuesday, Shahidi said, “I’m not completely satisfied with our batting as back-to-back wickets had put us under pressure in the first two games, and even against England.
“We discussed the problem and agreed that we needed to improve on this area by not crumbling under pressure,” he added.
Afghanistan lost six wickets for just 76 runs against England in its last match after a strong start by openers Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
“We are doing very well in the top-order but must also show responsibility in the middle-order. We need to be mentally strong, and everyone, particularly the middle-order batters, need to perform if we are to win,” said Shahidi.
“The first two games didn’t go our way, but we still had the belief. The win over England will give a lot of confidence to our team,” he added.
Although the Afghans will play their first international match in Chennai, Shahidi feels his team has an edge. “We have spent the last two to three years in India and are accustomed to the conditions. We spent nearly 40 days in Chennai preparing for the 2019 World Cup, so all of this gives us a lot of advantages, especially in these conditions similar to Afghanistan,” he said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand captain Tom Latham has backed his side to make it four wins on the trot. “We’re doing everything we can to prepare for this weekend and execute our plan as best we can, and if we do that to the best of our ability, we know we’ll be a difficult team to beat on our day,” said Latham.
That said, Latham is wary of the Afghan bowling attack. “Afghanistan has some fantastic bowlers on their side. Not only their spinners but their seamers are going to be a challenge.”
“[I] Spoke with the guys that have played with and against them in the IPL. So trying to get as much information as possible,” added the Kiwis skipper.
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