Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib says the loss of key bowler Hamid Hassan was the turning point in their nail-biting World Cup defeat by Pakistan.
Naib’s side were on the wrong end of another close finish after narrow defeats to India and Sri Lanka, coming within a whisker of defending 227 but falling three wickets and two balls short.
Hassan, an experienced campaigner with a decade of ODI experience, hobbled off with a hamstring injury after two overs and his skipper bemoaned it as a fatal blow.
“If Hamid was there at the end, we could have fought and kept the pressure,” said Gulbadin.
“The main turning point was losing him, he bowled two overs and then had to go off. That was a key point.
“The wicket was very slow and didn’t suit some of our bowlers, especially me. Without Hamid it was very difficult to defend any total.
“We lost our main bowler – I wouldn’t have bowled more than three or four overs if we hadn’t lost him.”
Gulbadin opted to bowl himself rather than Samiullah Shinwari in the 46th over, conceding 18 runs and three boundaries as Imad Wasim propelled Pakistan to a fourth win of the tournament.
While none of their batsmen were able to convert starts into big scores, Afghanistan posted a very competitive total on a Headingley track helpful to the spinners.
Their twirlers Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan turned the screw, combining for five wickets, and the run-outs of skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shadab Khan heightened nerves.
But Afghanistan fell short of a first victory at the eighth attempt and Gulbadin paid tribute to Pakistan’s performance, particularly the decisive 49 made by Imad.
“There’s no special reason we are losing these tight games,” he said.
“It was another close game and in other games, against India and Sri Lanka, we had good opportunities to beat this kind of team.
“There wasn’t that much pressure on us – it was all on Pakistan’s side. Credit goes to them and how they finished the game in those conditions.
“We were very close to beating them, but how Imad rotated the strike and controlled his innings deserves a lot of credit.”
Know more about Sport360 Application