ICC World Cup: Afghanistan’s journey leaves an enduring impact

England think tank need to look at the elusive reasons for such a dramatic slump, says veteran Irish–English cricketer Eoin Morgan

Rashid Khan (right) and wicketkeeper Ramanullah Gurbaz during the ICC World Cup (photo: ICC)
Rashid Khan (right) and wicketkeeper Ramanullah Gurbaz during the ICC World Cup (photo: ICC)

Eoin Morgan

Afghanistan’s World Cup journey has been nothing short of remarkable, leaving an enduring impact on the tournament. Despite ultimately missing out on the semi-finals, their four wins from nine games was a truly commendable performance. 

The familiar faces of Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman shone, but the revelation came in the form of Azmatullah Omarzai, who amassed over 300 runs. 

This glimpse into the next generation underscores Afghanistan’s potential, as they continue their transformation from upset wreakers to consistent contenders against cricketing elite. 

India, the host nation and pre-tournament favourites, have lived up to expectations with an unbeaten run in the group stages. Rarely do favourites meet the hype but India, buoyed by overwhelming support, seem indomitable under Rohit Sharma’s leadership. 

In stark contrast, England’s campaign has been a disappointing saga, culminating in an early exit. From the initial loss to New Zealand to subsequent defeats against South Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, the defending champions found little to celebrate. 

The captain–coach duo of Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott must now grapple with the elusive reasons behind this dramatic slump, with urgent emphasis on identifying and rectifying the issues before heading to the USA and the Caribbean next year to defend their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup crown. 

South Africa, on the other hand, have impressed with their batting prowess, emerging as a side capable of thriving under pressure. 

Their semi-final clash with the resurgent Australians promises to be a thrilling encounter. Australia, perennial contenders, overcame initial setbacks to build momentum, setting the stage for a compelling semi-final. 

Both teams must adhere to their aggressive styles to succeed, with Australia relying on past experiences while South Africa are exuding confidence under Temba Bavuma’s leadership. 

As the dust from the groups stage settles, we now see Afghanistan’s promise, India’s dominance, England’s struggles and the intriguing semi-final clash between South Africa and Australia defining the narrative of this World Cup so far. 

Plenty more drama awaits in the knockout stage, of course, with each match offering new twists and turns, building anticipation for the crowning moment that awaits cricket fans worldwide. 

(Eoin Morgan was the captain of the 2019 World Cup-winning England team and is now a TV pundit. Column courtesy: ICC) 

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