Afghanistan in Cricket World Cup: First played in 2015; won 1, lost 5

Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup 2019 pipping experienced teams like Zimbabwe and beating former champions West Indies.

Afghanistan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Afghanistan made their debut in the Cricket World Cup in 2015 and they were the 20th nation (holding East Asia as one) to take part in the competition. Afghanistan was yet not a Test-playing nation although the team had already made its debut in the World T20. In the 2015 CWC, Afghanistan were led by Mohammad Nabi and they were clubbed in Group A with hosts Australia and New Zealand besides England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Scotland.

Lost to Bangladesh by 105 runs

Afghanistan played their first match of the competition against Bangladesh in Canberra and were beaten comprehensively by 105 runs. Bangladesh batted first to score 267 with wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim top scoring with 73 and Afghanistan were bowled out for only 162 with Nabi top scoring with 44. Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza took 3 wickets for 20 runs while Shakib Al Hasan took 2 for 43.


Lost to Sri Lanka by 4 wickets

Afghanistan next took on Sri Lanka and came up with a far better batting performance in the match held in Dunedin. Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews and asked Nabi’s side to bat first and riding on Asghar Afghan’s 54 and Shamiullah Shinwari’s 38, Afghanistan scored 232 losing all their wickets in the 50th over.

Lasith Malinga and Mathews took two wickets each. Afghanistan then had the Lankans in a corner by reducing them to 51 for 4 but a timely hundred from Mahela Jayawardene and 44 from Mathews and 47 not out from Thisara Perera down the order saw Sri Lanka winning by 4 wickets. Pacer Hamid Hassan took 3 for 45.

Beat Scotland by 1 wicket

Shapoor Zadran
Shapoor Zadran. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Afghanistan’s highest point came in the next game when they beat Scotland, another non-Test-playing nation by taking part in their third WC. Nabi won the toss and elected to field and his bowlers did an excellent job to bowl Scotland out for 210 in 50 overs. The Zadran openers – Shapoor and Dawlat – took seven wickets in combination spearheading the bowling.

Afghanistan were reeling at 97 for 7 at one stage but it was Shinwari’s 96 and before him, 51 by opener Javed Ahmadi that saved the day for them. Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran added 19 runs for the last wicket to give their team a thrilling one-wicket win. Shinwari was the man of the match.

Lost to Australia by 275 runs

In a massive thumping in Perth, Afghanistan conceded Australia over 400 runs and then failed to cross 150 themselves. Nabi won the toss and sent Australia to bat first and opener David Warner made mincemeat of their bowling, slamming 178 runs in just 133 deliveries. Steve Smith scored 95 and Glenn Maxwell hit 88 and Australia posted a total of 417 for 6 in 50 overs.

For Afghanistan, Dawlat Zadran gave away 101 runs in his 10 overs and took two wickets. Chasing the impossible target by their batting standards, Nawroz Mangal scored the most for Afghanistan – 33, as they were shot out for 142 in the 3rth over to lose by 275 runs. Left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson took 4 for 22 runs.

Lost to New Zealand by 6 wickets

Afghanistan next met New Zealand, who were unbeatable in that tournament till the final, in Napier and it was again a one-sided affair. Nabi won the toss and elected to bat. But they soon slumped to 59 for 5 before Shinwari’s 54 and Najibullah Zadran’s 56 helped them cross 150. A 20-run partnership for the final wicket saw Afghanistan getting all out for 186 in the 48th over. Daniel Vettori took 4 for 18 and Trent Boult finished with 3 for 34.

Openers Martin Guptill (57) and captain Brendon McCullum (42) gave the Black Caps a good start as they put up 53 for the first wicket. Kane Williamson scored 33 while Ross Taylor was not out for 24 as New Zealand won the match inside 37 overs.

Lost to England by 9 wickets as per Duckworth-Lewis method

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Afghanistan met England, who were also out of the tournament, in their final game in Sydney but could not find their second win. England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and sent Afghanistan to bat and they had a complete batting collapse, losing 7 for 111 in the 37th over when rain interrupted. Shafiqullah top-scored for them with 30 while for England, Chris Jordan and Ravi Bopara took two wickets each.

England’s target was reduced to 101 runs from 25 overs and it was never going to be challenging for them, given Afghanistan’s mediocre bowling (Rashid Khan was yet to appear on the horizon). Ian Bell hit 52 not out and Alex Hales scored 37 and England drove home in the 19th over with nine wickets in hand. Hamid Hassan took the only wicket that the Three Lions lost.

This time, however, Afghanistan looks a far stronger side which plays in Tests and is competitive enough to put the best sides under enough pressure to perform. The rise of bowlers like Rashid Khan can indeed help Afghanistan survive the distance even though there were talks over their selection of the squad.

Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup pipping experienced teams like Zimbabwe and beating former champions West Indies. Gulbadin Naib’s side will launch its campaign against Australia in Bristol on June 1 and their fans will be looking forward to a better outing this time.