Birmingham: The Afghanistan team woke up on Sunday wondering what might have been as they counted the cost of the injury to their pacer Hamid Hasan.
They believe they would have surely won over Pakistan if he was able to play, instead of going down to a three-wicket loss. Although they have lost all their matches, the fact that they were able to get India as well as Pakistan to struggle for victory can make them proud.
Labelled as a weak team, they produced two of the most exciting and well-fought matches of the World Cup, and that will go a long way. A disappointed Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib said: “Bad luck for us today, Hamid Hasan got injured. We fought very well and gave 100 per cent, but in the end we missed an opportunity to win the match. Credit goes to Pakistan. Imad [Wasim] played really well and Shadab [Khan] gave him the strike well. We are learning a lot, and hopefully we’ll do well in the future.”
Naib hailed his bowlers, but blamed his batsmen, including himself. “The wicket was slow and turning and credit to [Mohammad] Nabi, Mujeeb [Ur Rehman], Rashid [Khan] and Samiullah [Shinwari]. Right at the start of the tournament I had mentioned that 30 to 40 runs [from each batsmen] will not be enough. We need 60 or 70 or a 100; only then will we be able to put up a good total. Every batsman, including me, should go one step forward.”
But what has also upset the skipper is that his country’s fans and Pakistan fans entered into a fight outside the stadium when they know most of the Afghanistan players have improved their game-playing in Pakistan.
Appealing to his fans, he said: “It’s not good to come to the ground and start teasing the players or the ground staff. Surely we know that things have not been going well in our country for the last 40 years. But we are here to show the world that we want to be friends with everyone and leave a good impression about my team and my country.”
The skipper acknowledged the fact that eight defeats in a row is something hard to digest. “Today we lost a close game,” he said. “In the two other games against India and against Sri Lanka too we had a good opportunity to beat them. The turning point of the match against Pakistan was Hamid’s injury. He could bowl only two overs, and to defend a total of 227 is difficult if you lose one of you main bowlers. If Hamid was around, I wouldn’t have bowled more than three or four overs because I do not have the kind of speed needed for this kind of surface,” he lamented.