Afghanistan cricket team support staff, including their analyst, were severely criticised by former cricketers and fans after the team potentially missed out on a place in the Super Fours of Asia Cup 2023 due to a blunder in understanding the qualification scenario in a thrilling chase against Sri Lanka in Lahore on September 5.
Afghanistan nearly pulled off a sensational chase of 292 against Sri Lanka, falling short of the target by just 3 runs in the end as they were bundled out for 289 in 37.4 overs.
After losing their opening game to Bangladesh by 89 runs on Sunday in Lahore, Afghanistan were facing a must-win situation against Sri Lanka in their final Group B game on Tuesday. Afghanistan not just needed a win but they faced a tricky qualification scenario to go through to the Super Fours based on Net Run Rate.
And it became even more difficult for Afghanistan after a partnership of 64 for the 8th wicket between Dunith Wellalage and Maheesh Theekshana lifted Sri Lanka to 291 for 8 in 50 overs after they won the toss and opted to bat.
Afghanistan needed to chase 292 in 37.1 overs or get to 295 in 37.5 overs in a complex qualification scenario. The broadcasters also initially missed mentioning it as they only displayed the first scenario in which Afghanistan needed 292 in 37.1 overs. However, the on-air commentators kept mentioning the extended qualification scenario for Afghanistan toward the end of the 37th over.
As it turned out, Afghanistan kept themselves in the hunt after a sensational 32-ball 65 from Mohammad Nabi. Rashid Khan kept Afghanistan’s hopes after Nabi’s exit and he brought the equation down to 15 off 7 balls. Rashid flaunted his big-hitting prowess under pressure as he hit Dunith Wellalage for 3 boundaries in the 37th over.
However, in the first delivery of the 38th over, Afghanistan lost their 9th wicket as Mujeeb Ur Rahman tried to hit a boundary but was caught at long-on in Dhananjaya de Silva’s over.
Afghanistan could have won it if they had hit another boundary, ideally a six, as 295 in 37.5 overs would have been enough. However, No. 11 batter Fazalhaq Farooqi strangely did not take a single and get Rashid Khan back on strike.
It was evident that Afghanistan were unaware of the complete picture of the qualification scenario. Farooqi was eventually out LBW in the fourth delivery of the over as Afghanistan were bowled out for 289 in one of their most agonising defeats.
Afghanistan finished the Asia Cup 2023 without clinching a win.
Sri Lanka survived the scare to sneak into the Super Fours and join India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the next stage of the tournament.
Pakistan and Bangladesh will play the first Super Fours match in Lahore on Wednesday before the action shifts to Colombo.