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Trott proud as Afghanistan no longer 'rock up and it's left to luck'

By AFP

October 31, 2023 09:58 AM


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Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott was proud of his side's landmark World Cup victory over Sri Lanka, hailing a team who no longer "rock up and it's left to luck".

Monday's seven-wicket defeat of the 1996 champions in Pune followed Afghanistan's eight-wicket win over Pakistan.

Victory also meant Afghanistan, who'd already beaten defending champions England, had won back-to-back matches at the World Cup for the first time.

Afghanistan have six points and sit in fifth place in the table, two behind New Zealand and Australia with the top four guaranteed to make the semi-finals.

It's an impressive feat for a team that had won just one game -- against non-Test nation Scotland -- at their two World Cups prior to this edition.

"There's such an amount of talent, and we've just given a bit of structure, a bit of a game-plan, understanding what makes them the best players that they can be," said Trott.

"And so, when it comes to match-day, it's not just sort of rock up and it's left to luck."

Former England batsman Trott added: "But I say to the players, the beauty of cricket is if you're playing well, the challenge then is to back it up the next game...The challenge for us is going to be able to start again against the Netherlands."

Afghanistan's run-chases in their last two wins have seen them bat with the composure that was a hallmark of Trott's career.

Set 242 against Sri Lanka, they overcame the loss of opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz for a fourth-ball duck before Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (58 not out) and Azmatullah Omarzai (73 not out) settled any lingering nerves with an unbroken stand of 111.

- 'Game-plan' -

"I think we've been working really hard at our batting and doing the basics," said Trott.

"You're starting to see hopefully not the penny drop, but we're starting to see also the confidence in the players, in their own ability."

Victory was set up by recalled left-arm fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi's 4-34 in 10 overs as Sri Lanka were held to 241.

Farooqi returned in place of Noor Ahmad despite the teenage spinner's three wickets on World Cup debut against Pakistan.

But Afghanistan now have the bowling depth to alter their attack depending upon conditions.

"We saw the way Noor bowled last game and the wickets he got," said Trott. "So, we're very lucky in that we have got options."

Shahidi opted to bowl after winning the toss because of concerns about dew later in the game.

Sri Lanka off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana was certainly left to rue bowling second following a return of 0-55 in 10 overs.

A fourth defeat in six matches left Sri Lanka struggling to qualify for the semi-finals, with Theekshana saying: "When the dew came in, the wicket got a lot better when they batted."

With Wanindu Hasaranga ruled out of the World Cup through injury, Theekshana has become Sri Lanka's frontline spinner.

"It is a challenge because he is the main wicket-taking bowler we had," said Theekshana.

But the 23-year-old, whose three tournament wickets have come at an expensive average of 76 apiece, added: "It's actually a good challenge for me and I think it's an opportunity for me as well."


AFP


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