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Delusional Afghanistan starting to believe their own hype

Afghanistan, World Cup T20, Chris Morris, South Africa, Sri Lanka
In their second game, Afghanistan did put up a spirited fight against South Africa but ultimately succumbed to a 37-run defeat, an astronomical figure by T20 standards.

Everyone loves the underdog in sport. At the on-going World T20 tournament there’s no bigger (or smaller?) one that Afghanistan, the Asian minnows who have captured the imagination of the wider public with their rags-to-riches story and expansive style of play. However, if recent statements are anything to go by, the Afghans are starting to believe in their own hype, while results point to the contrary.

In their second game, Afghanistan did put up a spirited fight against South Africa but ultimately succumbed to a 37-run defeat, an astronomical figure by T20 standards. Yet, following the match, their opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad would take pot shots at this generation’s best bowler Dale Steyn – who was dropped for tactical reasons – effectively saying if Steyn had played, the Afghans would have won. “Dale Steyn is not dangerous,” added the disrespectful Shahzad. He would do well to remember that it was the same Steyn who dismissed him for a paltry 2 in their only previous T20I clash.

Rather than being dismissive towards Steyn, maybe Shahzad should turn his attention to his own batting and keeping. He keeps referencing MS Dhoni in his speeches, more like an obsessed fan-boy than a rival, but lacks the skill or the temperament of his hero. While his statements are being perceived as ‘confident’ by now, they come across more and more as foolhardy with each passing day.

The sentiment is felt through the Afghani contingent as well. By comparing their batting performance to an ‘earthquake’ to claiming that they will win the World Cup one day, such hyperbole is doing more disservice to their cause.

If Afghanistan were indeed as good as they claim to be, they would have beaten a beleaguered Sri Lanka in their tournament opener. Yet they lost comprehensively and the usual narrative of ‘putting up a fight’ is starting to wear thin.

This is a cricket World Cup – a tournament where every team should stand a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals. Afghanistan have no chance and do not belong at this level. Not yet at least.

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