The Afghanistan cricket team must have won a million hearts by their spirited performance against India in the ICC 2019 World Cup game betweeen the two teams. The underdogs fell agonisingly short of causing the biggest upset in the ongoing event after a brilliant showing by their bowlers and a defiant effort by their batsmen.
But now, Afghanistan have another opportunity to achieve their first win of the tournament as they take on Bangladesh. To be sure, the Mashrafe Mortaza-led side has been in great form itself. They have already defeated South Africa and West Indies in this tournament and came close to beating New Zealand as well. Their performance against World Champions Australia, though ending up in a loss, was still worthy of admiration.
So, do the Afghans have any chance of pulling off only their second-ever World Cup victory? Well, after their performance against India, anything is possible and their captain Gulbadin Naib sounded distinctly optimistic during the press conference on the eve of the match-day.
He chose to express his positive outlook on the upcoming match in a most endearing manner. Quoting a famous Urdu phrase, Gulbadin said, "Hum to doobey hain sanam, tumko bhi le doobenge" (we may be drowning but we'll take you with us). A cursory glance at the points table will convey the full import of the Afghan skipper's words.
Afghanistan are at the bottom of the table and out of the World Cup. But Bangladesh are still hanging on with a slim chance of qualifying for the semis. That chance will become even slimmer if they lose against their fellow Asian side. Gulbadin wants to spoil Bangladesh's mission to be the fourth team in the semis.
What would matter most in deciding the outcome of this game is how well, or otherwise, the Bangladeshi batsmen play Afghan spinners like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. It were the slower bowlers who did the trick for Gulbadin's team against India. Considering the great form of Shakib and Mahmudullah, it won't be easy. It's this contest that is likely to decide the result of the game.