Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Afghanistan's Mujeeb Ur Rahman, left, and Sayed Shirzad leave the field after their loss against West Indies in the World Cup match at Headingley in Leeds. Image Credit: AP

London: Afghanistan failed to pick any points in this Cricket World Cup as they were unable to finish off some of the close battles they were involved in.

Though they were positioned at the bottom of the table, the inexperienced team did give a fright to some of the big teams in the tournament.

On Thursday, an 18-year-old Ikram Alikhil gave a near-scare to the mighty West Indies through a brilliant knock of 86 to announce that there are many brave and talented youngsters in his country waiting for the opportunity and exposure.

Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib said there was no dearth of talent in the country.

“Not only Alikhil, we also have many others like him in Afghanistan,” said the skipper. “I hope the other guys also get such opportunities to give performances like this and prove themselves.”

Further talking about Alikhil, Naib said: “Although he played very well, it was unfortunate that he missed a century in this World Cup. That would have been a big achievement for everyone. He played well in the Under-19 World Cup too and has been playing a lot of cricket back home in the last two, three years. That is the reason I wanted to try him out. And if youngsters like him start playing well, then in two or three years it will be very good for the team and our country.”

Although disappointed not to have won a single match, Naib said his team had learnt a lot from their mistakes.

“I’m really disappointed. If you look at every game we played, we committed a number of mistakes. We did not play our natural cricket, as we have been playing in the last two to three years. Sure we have big names in the team, but they didn’t utilise their skills on the ground.”

By big names, was he referring to Rashid Khan, who wasn’t at his best in this World Cup?

“If we look at players like Shakib, Aaron Finch or Jonny Bairstow, they started really well in this tournament. Hence their morale and confidence levels also went up. With regards to Rashid, some catches were dropped off his bowling. So he wasn’t very lucky too, and sometimes that happens.”

Naib was also not very happy that his team did not start well.

“We beat some of the teams in the Asia Cup, so everyone was expecting a lot from us,” he said. “But we were unable to give our 100 per cent. I think we need to improve in every department of the game. So I must say sorry to all our fans. I really hope we are there in the next World Cup too, and if all goes well we should be among the top six teams in two to three years.”