Afghanistan became just the second nation after Australia to win two of the first three Test matches. Afghanistan’s second win in Tests came in their third Test against Bangladesh and too at the Tigers’ home ground at Chattogram.
The win adds more reputation to Afghanistan’s competitiveness in all formats. On the other hand, Bangladesh feel the pinch of the loss for losing at home, and too against a team that is playing just their third Test.
But this article is not about Bangladesh’s stuttered growth in world cricket. It’s about the new emerging, talented cricketing group in Afghanistan, who are punching above their waist in all formats and all tournaments.
Just recently, they gave a scare to India and Pakistan in 2019 World Cup before their inexperience saw them lose the two matches from winning positions.
It’s Afghanistan competitiveness that has been their biggest virtue. It has seen them post memorable wins, or give a tough fought before going down losing.
So, was the Test win over Bangladesh just a planned strategy from Afghanistan to gradually become a superpower in world cricket or the victory was just a fluke?
Cricwizz delves deeper into the Test win by Afghanistan to understand this.
Afghanistan caught Bangladesh napping
Bangladesh had not taken Afghanistan seriously going into the Test. They had believed they would manage to beat the newcomers in the longer format just by turning up on their home ground. It was this Bangladesh’s recklessness that Afghanistan made merry and piled up a competitive total in both innings.
Bangladesh could not recover from the jolts and capitulated one they conceded a big first-innings lead. In comparison, Afghanistan showed better application to deal with the opposition. In fact, Afghanistan were hungrier to do well unlike Bangladesh.
They were not prepared to face Rashid
Bangladesh players would have probably dismissed Afghanistan’s bowling attack even before walking on the ground. But Afghanistan’s bowling attack, led by captain Rashid Khan, laid a trap for the complacent Bangladesh cricketers to throw their wickets away. Rashid made merry on the familiar ground which offered good turn and bite from the wicket. It was all Rashid needed to run through the opposition line-up with an 11-wicket haul.
Hungry vs complacent
While newcomers to Test cricket Afghanistan were hungry for success, Bangladesh were just the opposite. They have had their own internal problems to deal with and could not raise their game keeping in mind the team’s interest. In contrast, Afghanistan hunted like a pack of lions closing in on their prey. It was this attitude that made the difference.
It wasn’t a fluke
Afghanistan played their normal cricket in Test cricket. They brought all their competitiveness to the fore in the Test match against Bangladesh just like how they play limited-overs cricket. They raised their game to beat Bangladesh who have played over 100 Tests.
Afghanistan gave their all, while Bangladesh under-performed at their own ground to suffer a humiliating loss. Afghanistan have carried forward all their limited-overs experience into Test cricket to win two matches out of three Tests so far.
Can Afghanistan repeat the heroics?
Afghanistan have the hunger, skills, talent to do well in Test cricket. But they are still under-cooked. They managed to beat Bangladesh comprehensively. But it’s everyone’s knowledge that Bangladesh cricket has gone down in quality, especially in longer formats, in recent times. And their first Test victory came against another newcomer Ireland.
Afghanistan may take a lot of confidence from the win, but a lot is left to do if they wish to do well in Test cricket. The team is depended heavily on Rashid Khan. They need to find better quality bowlers who can support Rashid to form a lethal spin pair. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is a work in progress. They needed other spin options.
The batting needs to evolve as a stronger bowling unit can expose them as Afghanistan found out in their debut Test against India when they were all out twice in a day.
Nothing should be taken away from Afghanistan’s win but they can be called serious competitors in Test cricket only if they can be consistent with their game and get more results in their favour. It might need some time, but Afghanistan have shown the desire to do all the hard work to become one of the best in the cricket world across all formats.