Afghanistan reap benefits of tweaked batting template

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Afghanistan are reaping the benefits of changing their batting template in the shortest format as they now feel the necessity to have an ‘anchor’ at the top three in T20s. Afghanistan won the opening game by eight wickets against Sri Lanka on the back of a blazing opening partnership, but in Sharjah they came up with a clinical batting display to beat Bangladesh by seven wickets.

The win not only took them to the Super Four in the ongoing Asia Cup but also proved that now they are getting more comfortable in chasing down totals. Afghanistan so far have played 101 matches and won 68 games. 42 of those wins came when they batted first as they relied on their bowling attack to get the job done.

“In these two games we showed we can chase totals. Earlier opposition used to say that Afghanistan cannot chase. But we were quite good (in the two chases), were not under pressure and had proper balance,” Nabi told reporters after the win over Bangladesh.

Afghanistan were in trouble against Bangladesh at one point in a game that suited their opposition’s bowling attack. However, middle-order batsman Najibullah Zadran stole the show with his swashbuckling cameo coming in at number five. Apart from Najibullah, Ibrahim Zadran also stood tall coming in at three with an unbeaten 41-ball 42 that was vital in Afghanistan getting the job done.

Ibrahim, who appears to be more suited for Tests and ODIs, anchored the innings like a seasoned pro. In the past, Afghanistan hardly had someone at number 3 to hold one end up and rotate strike at will. Nabi said that they have opted to have someone like Ibrahim at number three considering the fact that they might need someone to anchor the innings.

“That’s why (playing the anchor role) we put Ibrahim at the top three. He carries on his batting till the death and on the other side we attack the bowlers,” said Nabi. “We need those kinds of batters (at three) to rotate the strike easily and he (Ibrahim) wasn’t under pressure all the time and when it’s time to hit he can do it as well. (Agencies)