ANI Photo | “Win against England will give us confidence”: Afghanistan skipper Shahidi ahead of NZ clash

Ahead of Afghanistan’s ICC Cricket World Cup clash against New Zealand at Chennai, captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said that the win against defending champions England in the previous game has given them a lot of confidence and talked about spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s improvement as a batter.
Afghanistan will take on New Zealand in their World Cup match at Chennai. After losing two games to India and Bangladesh, Afghanistan defeated England in their previous match. Meanwhile, New Zealand has registered wins in all three games.
On the win against England, Shahidi said, “Definitely it was a big win for us. England are defending champion. So that will give a lot of confidence to our team. And we had belief from the beginning of the tournament, but the first two games did not go our way. But still, we had the belief and as you saw we beat England. That will give us a lot of confidence as a team to move forward for the next games. And we will try to maintain that confidence with us.”
Shahidi said that Mujeeb has improved a lot as a batter and has worked hard on it. It gives the team a lot of advantage.
“It gives us a lot of advantage – Mujeeb worked very hard, he is only practising batting in the nets. Here in the team environment he is always keen to bat in the net sessions and he improved on his power hitting, I can say he will be our all-rounder, but he has to be careful not to hit the wicket again because he did it twice in last couple of games,” said Shahidi.
Mujeeb smashed valuable 28 runs in the win against England, which combined with his three-wicket haul, gave him the ‘Player of the Match’ award. He also smashed a quickfire 64 against Pakistan in a series just before the tournament.
Shahidi said that there are good enough facilities for the team at home to prepare itself. The country also has good domestic cricket, he added.
“First of all, let me tell you about the facilities. Right now, we have good enough facilities to prepare ourselves. We have good domestic cricket also. If we want to prepare or arrange camps in our country, it is possible. Because in every city, in Jalalabad, Kabul, Kandahar, we have facilities, we have stadiums, we have academies. It is not like India but still, you can prepare yourself for it,” said Shahidi.
“We had preparation for this World Cup. Our preparation started six months back. We had one domestic List A tournament so we started from there. Then we had the Sri Lanka series, Bangladesh and Pakistan series then the Asia Cup so after that we had a camp in Abu Dhabi. So, we are well prepared for it and looking forward to performing well in this tournament,” he added.
Shahidi highlighted the importance of adjusting to conditions for good batting performances and said that they were aware of the challenges Delhi could bring as they played two games there back-to-back.
“Yeah, I have talked about that but as a batting unit, if you want to be a good batting unit or a good team, first of all, you have to adjust with the conditions, you know, like you playing in different stadiums different grounds different kind of pitches. So, we know that Delhi pitch, we played two games there and both pitches had different behaviour. Against India, for spinning it was different. Against England, for spinning it was different. So, you have to adjust to those things.”
“Now we are playing on different ground as a batting unit, we talked about that and you have to think about all those things. That is why, this small difference makes you a good team. So that is why as a batting unit we have to focus and we are focusing on that, how to play here,” he added.
The skipper said that he is still not satisfied with the batting since after one wicket, they lost some quick wickets which puts pressure on the team and the team would like to improve in that area.
Shahidi said that playing T20 league cricket across the world benefits them as international pressure becomes less.
“The league cricket benefits our cricket. Like the players who played leagues, you know, that international pressure becomes a little bit less with that because they used to with the players, big players – and also in here, like from the first game I was talking and everyone was talking, we are here to compete and to fight with every team. So that is our mindset and the last game that we won gave us more confidence with that. So, we will try to take that same confidence as a team with us and move on and we will try our best to play positive cricket here and win games,” he said.
Shahidi said that Rahmanullah Gurbaz is one of the players who he thinks is a match-winner. Gurbaz played a match-winning 80-run knock against England and had a century partnership with Ibrahim Zadran which set the tone for Afghanistan’s innings.
“Rahmanullah is one of the players in our team who is I believe a match-winner player. He can change the game anytime. You know whenever I am talking to him, I tell him that you are a match winner so he had a lot of impact on the games when he doing well so he did well in the last game also unfortunately he got run out and as like I expect that he will play much more than what he did in last three games in future games so whenever he do well, automatically our team will perform well with his performance,” said the skipper.
On the work being done to strengthen the middle order, Shahidi said, “See we did all our work, all our preparation, it is about the mindset. We know that we are doing very well at the top order. So, we have to take the responsibility as a player, everyone in the middle order. We have to be mentally strong and take responsibility as a player, everyone, especially in the middle order, we have to do well to win the games.”
Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young. (ANI)

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