Southampton: “We are drowning, but we’ll take you with us," Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said, cheekily warning Bangladesh ahead of their World Cup clash in Southampton on Monday.
Afghanistan are already out of the tournament after losing all their six matches so far while Bangladesh are still in the reckoning with five points from six matches. The Tigers will need to win against Afghanistan to remain in contention for a semifinal berth.
“Hum to doobe hai sanam, tumko lekar doobenge (We are drowning, darling, but we’ll take you with us)," a smiling Gulbadin said when asked about the match against Bangladesh.
Afghanistan have improved steadily over the past couple of matches and Gulbadin believed his team, which has some highly-rated spinners, have what it takes to topple the world’s best.
Although yet to win a match, Afghanistan picked up their game over the past week, losing by just 11 runs to fancied India in Southampton on Saturday.
Boasting the top-ranked T20 bowler in the world in the form of Rashid Khan, as well as the considerable threat of Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Gulbadin’s side restricted a star-studded India line-up to just 224 at the Hampshire Bowl - their lowest total in this World Cup.
Despite falling just short in their response, the Afghanistan skipper was optimistic about his spinners as they seek their first win of the competition.
“You saw against India. India has the best batting attack all over the world. So if the wicket helps our spinners, maybe it’s very difficult for everyone, not only Bangladesh," he said ahead of Monday’s match.
“I know Bangladesh also have showed their skills in this tournament, how they played, and they chased 320 against West Indies. Our spinners are one of the best spin attacks in the world. When the wicket is suitable for us, it’s very difficult, not only for Bangladesh, but for everyone."
The key to the upturn in Afghanistan’s fortunes has been the Hampshire Bowl pitch that is conducive to spin, and they are set to play their second successive game at the venue.
“We struggled a lot in these conditions in the first three or four games. The surface and the wickets are totally different. We didn’t expect it. It’s totally different in the last two games. It’s a very good wicket for us especially, so it’s like Asian conditions, the ball turning, especially in the last game against India.
“Everyone is just trying to do well, especially the senior players. They have pressure, but every tournament together we’re discussing the small, small things. What’s wrong? What do we want to do to get better?"