CWC19: Pakistan vs Afghanistan – Five Things We Learned

What did we learn from Pakistan’s nervous victory over Afghanistan.

What the hell? What the hell, Pakistan? What the hell, Afghanistan! This wasn’t supposed to be a close match, and it didn’t look like a close match early on, and yet, right at the end, it really, seriously was. Spin isn’t supposed to be a factor in England yet in this match it really was. But then, right as Afghanistan looked like they might win it, with Pakistan needing to take some serious risks to get there, instead Afghanistan’s current captain Gulbadin Naib brought himself on and conceded 18 runs off an over to bring the game back to parity. And then, if that wasn’t bad enough, when Afghanistan still had a chance of victory, he brought himself back on for the last over too, to hand the game to Pakistan. I’ve never seen such bad captaincy. There were spin bowlers who had overs to spare who were bowling much better. It just made no sense!

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Five Things We Learned:

(1) Gulbadin Naib is the world’s worst captain

If you were wondering why Afghanistan were doing worse than expected this tournament, this is why. Mohammad Nabi was a good captain. Rashid Khan was okay too. Mohammad Shahzad was fantastic. But this guy, this Gulbadin Naib guy, no. He’s awful. And this effort, to bowl himself right when it wasn’t needed, was awful. I found myself asking “who paid you to do that?” While hopefully it’s just bad captaincy rather than match fixing, it looked like match fixing.

(2) So much for the 1992 meme

Hearts were beating fast here, fingernails were being bitten to the bone and there was rioting in the crowd. While Pakistan still won, they lost a lot of their momentum here and the 1992 meme is off somewhat. They are still favourites to beat Bangladesh but not by quite as much now.

(3) Afghanistan aren’t so bad after all

If not for Gulbadin Naib bringing himself in, Afghanistan may have won.

(4) Shaheen Shah Afridi is brilliant

He had another great bowling spell here that should have won it for Pakistan, and would have, but for some messing up by the batsmen.

(5) Imad Wasim is a great player

He took 2 wickets opening the bowling but it was his late batting that was brilliant. He batted with the tail and knew just when to attack. He just knew that Gulbadin Naib needed to be targeted and he took calculated risks right when it was needed. It was genius.

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