Bengaluru, June 5: Afghanistan are playing in their second World Cup this year.
The talented side made its debut in the showpiece event in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand and ended up winning one close match which was against Scotland.
In the last four years, the team has made good progress and this year, they are being considered a team that will give all teams a challenge.
However, Gulbadin Naib's team started with two consecutive defeats against Australia and Sri Lanka and will need to tighten their socks first if they want to avoid an early exit from the tournament.
Afghanistan impressed against Australia on Saturday as they carried on fighting while Sri Lanka were bundled out for a mere 136 runs by New Zealand the same day and lost by 10 wickets. The Afghans also lost the game, but not as easily as the Lankans.
The expectations from Naib's side were high hence when they took on Sri Lanka in their second game in Cardiff on Tuesday. And when the Afghan bowlers triggered a collapse in the Lankan innings and took their last nine wickets for only 57 runs, it seemed the 1996 champions were in for another shock.
But it was not to be. Afghanistan made a mess of their chase and could not pull off the game from a tight situation even if they had more balls in hand than the runs required. At 121 for five in the 25th over, Afghanistan required another 66 runs to win in 16 overs after rain intervened, but were all out for 152 since their batsmen did not know how to guide the team home in such situations. They just did not take enough singles to keep the scoreboard ticking and allowed the pressure to build up.
In Asia Cup 2018, also, Afghanistan had thumped more experienced teams like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group stage to advance to the Super Four.
But as the competition became more intense, Afghanistan started to feel their raw nerves and lost some close games to Pakistan and Bangladesh to crash out of the fray.
They conceded 16 runs to Pakistan in the last nine balls of the game while against Bangladesh, they failed to score 12 runs in the last nine balls. These are the games that Afghanistan need to win more frequently in international cricket if they aspire to become a force.