Before the start of the tournament, nobody would have predicted that Afghanistan will move into the Super Four ahead of Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2018. But the Asghar Afghan-led side has proved the naysayers wrong and advanced to the next round.Afghanistan have won both their Group B matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively and in some style to move into the next round.In their opening match against Sri Lanka, they pulled off a major upset by handing the Lankans a 91-run defeat and then followed it up with a resounding 136-run win over Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi.India vs Bangladesh Asia Cup 2018: Live ScoreAfghanistan’s success has so far come because of their all-round show. The batsmen have put on decent scores on both the occasions and their spinners have taken care of the rest.Also read – Rashid Khan dedicates man-of-the-match award to former ACB chief Atif MashalLed by Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s bowling attack has made merry of the hot and dry conditions in the UAE. And, that is exactly what makes them dangerous in this tournament.Without a doubt, their spin attack is perhaps the best in the tournament. One might argue that India have the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, but Afghanistan’s spinners have more variety and the element of surprise. Rashid Khan has starred for Afghanistan in Asia Cup 2018 so far (AP Photo)Rashid recently became the leading wicket-taker as a teenager and he is backed up by the likes of Mohammad Nabi and also Mujeeb Ur Rahman — if at all they decide to go with three spinners.Also Read – Rashid Khan becomes Afghanistan’s joint-highest wicket-takeradvertisementRashid has troubled batsmen all around the world and even the best of players have failed to play him convincingly. Nabi on the other hand, plays a perfect foil and contains runs, thus, creating pressure on the opposition to score runs and in the process, they end up losing wickets. The duo hunts in pairs and with conditions helping them, they are even more deadly.Mujeeb on the other hand, didn’t play against Bangladesh but he opened the bowling against Sri Lanka and stopped them in their tracks with the new ball. He is their ‘mystery’ spinner and although he hasn’t been able to be as effective as Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis when he burst onto the scene, the Afghan has been able to do his job well and set the stage up for his spin partners to come and do the work.Asia Cup 2018: Afghanistan vs Bangladesh Report | Highlights | Live streaming Afghanistan batsmen have put on a decent show in Asia Cup 2018 so far (AP Photo)Their only problem or rather concern one could say, remains their batting and whether they could stand up against the likes of seasoned bowlers from India and Pakistan remains to be seen. The Afghan batsmen struggled against the Bangladeshi bowlers and tougher challenges await when they take on the Pakistan and India.But, they would like to take heart from the fact that they have at least managed to score over 200 runs on both the occasions despite their initial struggles and their spinners have later on come and done the work for them.And, there is no reason to believe that they can’t do it again. Before the tournament even started, there was hype around two assured matches between India and Pakistan and probably the final as well but the way Afghans have performed so far things will not be easy for the two cricketing giants. Afghanistan have won both their matches in Asia Cup 2018 so far (AP Photo)One needs to remember that India and Pakistan will have to go up against them in the Super Four as well and both the teams have struggled to deal with spinners properly of late.While Pakistan struggled against the likes of Kuldeep and even Kedar Jadhav, Indians also failed to read Shadab Khan properly and in Rashid, they will have a much harder and knowledgeable nemesis because of the amount of cricket he has played in the Indian Premier League.None of the Indian batsmen can boost of the ability to play spin properly and the Afghans may again unleash their three-pronged spin attack on September 25, when they two sides go head-to-head in Dubai.So, hold on to your excitement because the Afghans may well be in the final instead of a India or a Pakistan on September 28.
Read more on Asia Cup 2018: Why the ‘big guns’ cannot take Afghanistan lightly