Gulbadin Naib claims every game in this World Cup is a learning curve for Afghanistan but he is still backing them to do some damage, especially on spinning pitches.
Afghanistan have lost to Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa so far at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 to sit bottom of the table and now face hosts England at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
They have failed to bat out their overs in any game so far but a bowling attack including highly-rated spinners Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have the potential to cause the opposition problems.
And skipper Gulbadin – whose side lost to England by nine wickets in a pre-World Cup warm-up match – is eager to see some turn on the Old Trafford pitch, believing that holds the key to their success.
“We are looking for spin in every game,” smiled Gulbadin. “But we didn’t find spin on the surface.
“If the Old Trafford wicket is like it was when India and Pakistan played on Sunday, the wicket slightly turned, then maybe every team is in trouble against Afghanistan, not only England but the others!
“The spin is key for Afghanistan, in the last three years that’s how we play our cricket – spin provides a high rate of success for the Afghanistan team.
“If there’s a little bit of spin there, maybe it’s a good day for Afghanistan.
“Rashid is not like other players who bowl normally, he’s an attacking bowler. Every time, he’s attacking.
“In the warm-up match, maybe the surface was not suited to him. But if we have the kind of wicket India and Pakistan had, if it turns slightly, then Rashid can make it difficult for every team – not only England.
“Rashid is a key bowler and he’s also created a lot of success for Afghanistan; so he’s a key part of the Afghanistan team.”
Afghanistan have been travelling around the country so far in this tournament, having played in Bristol, Taunton and Cardiff (twice).
After the clash against England at Old Trafford, they face two consecutive games in Southampton before finishing with a pair of matches in Leeds.
And while Gulbadin says the team have learned plenty on their travels, he is targeting a victory before the World Cup is over.
“We are taking a lot of positives from the four games we played against the other teams,” he added. “It’s good cricket and you face tough situations. You face a different kind of wicket and different kind of pitches in every match.
“You can find out a lot of things on those kind of surfaces and in this kind of tournament. We have achieved a lot of things here and now we are trying to achieve others.
“We are hopeful as we look for victories in the matches. We are trying to put in good points here to take from this tournament.
“If you look at our cricket, we are learning a lot of things and we are also trying to bounce back well from defeats. It’s a tough format for us.”