Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan’s captain, blamed a shoddy fielding performance for his side’s failure to claim their first scalp of the World Cup, as his attempts to replicate the circumstances of their battling display against India on Saturday came unstuck in a 62-run defeat against Bangladesh.
Faced with the same strip of turf on which Afghanistan’s spinners had bowled heroically to limit India to 224 for 8 two days earlier, Gulbadin chose to bowl after winning the toss – an unexpected decision, given both the used track and his side’s proven strengths.
And despite batting with tenacity for the first half of their reply, Bangladesh’s total of 262 for 7 proved to be more than enough, against a side that – for all its rising reputation and proven ability to shock – has yet to find a means to compile an authoritative chase.
In 15 previous chases against senior ODI opponents, Afghanistan had won on just three occasions, and never when chasing a target in excess of 212. Moreover, their highest total when batting second was 258, four runs shy of today’s target – albeit it came against Bangladesh, in Dhaka in 2016.
They never came close to Monday’s target, thanks to another masterful display of spin bowling from Shakib Al Hasan. However, while Gulbadin praised the impact of his five-wicket haul, he felt the match was lost elsewhere.
“Yeah, I’m happy with the toss, but if you look at the match, we missed a couple of catches and gave away around 30, 35 runs with misfields. Without those, maybe the total is not that much. The wicket was slow, and it’s good for batting. So we look to start well. But praise goes to Shakib. He bowled really well. But because of misfielding we missed the opportunity again.”
Aside from one glaring drop from Dawlat Zadran at point in the final over of the innings, Afghanistan’s errors were broadly based in ground fielding, as Bangladesh took their chance to put the pressure on with confident running, and were able to push the singles even after Mahmudullah had suffered a debilitating calf strain.
“If you look at the wicket,  is chaseable,” Gulbadin said. “But we didn’t bowl in the right area in the first ten overs, and they scored like 50-something. But those extra runs [cost us].”
It was another chastening day for Rashid Khan, who was denied the wicket of Shakib by an overturned review, and went wicketless in his ten overs. And Gulbadin admitted that, without providing him with full support in the field, Afghanistan were always up against it.
“If we look for Rashid, where I want him, he is trying hard,” Gulbadin said. “He giving his 100%, but he’s also disappointed about the fielding. One time he’s very angry in the field. That’s why if you not field well, he also upset.
“Rashid is one of those players, he is trying in every department, especially in fielding, bowling, and also batting. Again, we give it extra runs, and that’s why one time Rashid look very upset in the middle. So I asked him just keep relaxed and just focus on your bowling. So I think he missed his momentum there because of fielding.”
In reply, Afghanistan mixed up their batting order, with Rahmat Shah stepping up to open alongside Gulbadin in the absence of Hasratullah Zazai. And though they set a platform for their side in an opening stand of 49, no-one was able to go on to a half-century. Samiullah Shinwari impressed in the middle order in his first outing of the tournament, but was left flinging his bat away in anger after being left high and dry on 49 not out.
“The openers didn’t do well [earlier], that’s why we give the opportunity to Rahmat Shah,” Gulbadin said. “He did really well. He batted ten overs, so he fought really well. But, again, we made a lot of mistakes in the fielding. At one time we thought this would be chaseable because we bat to nine, ten – Rashid and Dawlat are also capable of hitting big shots – and Sami also played good innings. So that’s why we give the opportunity to Sami.”
The ultimate difference, however, came down to Shakib. “He’s the world No.1 allrounder,” Gulbadin said. “He has a lot of experience, he took his time on the wicket when he batted, and he bowled really well, according to the plan. The wicket was not turning much for them, but he bowled in the right areas, so that’s why he got the wickets.”
Source: ESPN Crickinfo