I think I can sleep better now, rashid khan after beating Australia

I think I can sleep better now, rashid khan after beating Australia, Afghanistan vs Australia, 48th Match, Super 8 Group 1 Series: ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024

Jun 23, 2024 - 22:46
Jun 23, 2024 - 23:10

AFG 148/6 (20)
AUS 127 (19.2)
Afghanistan won by 21 runs
Gulbadin Naib 

Afghanistan vs Australia, 48th Match, Super 8 Group 1 - Live Cricket Score, Series: ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024 Venue: Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, St Vincent Date & Time: Jun 22, 08:30 PM LOCAL

Shortly after Afghanistan's historic win over Australia in Kingstown, skipper Rashid Khan seemed a man lost in his thoughts of happiness and ecstasy. The Asian side had come extremely close to a similar result seven months ago, during the ODI World Cup in India, but a freak thump of the highest request from Glenn Maxwell denied them at the time. Yet again the Australian was in his elements on Sunday (June 23) but Rashid's men held their nerve to get across the line this time around.

Basking in the moment of brilliance, Rashid compared the contrasting moods of the two games and how the defeat at the Wankhede had shaken him up.

"I think I can sleep better now. But that [Mumbai] was a night which didn't let me sleep," said Rashid at the post-match press conference.

"The game kept coming into my mind. It was [for] 90 plus percent we were in the game and Maxi, the way he played that night, took the game away from us. I didn't sleep the whole night and I feel like tonight because of the happiness I won't have the option to sleep. That's the manner by which happy the whole team and the whole country. And it's a massive win for us as a team, as a nation. It's not just like a bilateral game. It's a World Cup game, and definitely in a World Cup, you're beating the best side. It's a great achievement. And they were the winners of 2021 World Cup. So, beating a team like that, I think it always gives you so much energy and doesn't let you sleep as well."

With a challenging target of 149 on a dry spinning surface, Australia were up against it from the moment they lost Travis Head in the first over of the chase. They needed a fast start to ensure that they didn't need to take too many risks off Afghanistan's potent spin attack but that wasn't to be. However, Maxwell appeared to bat on a different surface as his unconventional methods disrupted the bowlers even as wickets fell around him. The difference between the Wankhede defeat and this game was the way in which Afghanistan's bowlers managed to hold their composure when under pressure and Rashid credited bowling coach Dwayne Bravo, who was constantly seen at the boundary rope, chatting away to the Afghanistan players.

"Well, I think we as a team, we have the kind of batters, the bowlers where they always need that reminder," Rashid said. "Sometimes they forget the things what we discuss in the meeting. [When the] coach is here and he's looking at me, he knows as well, especially in the batting department. Whenever we forget some things we discuss in the meeting, coach is there, head coach, he keeps reminding them. And that's something which for a side like this, you need to have those people who remind the things to you.

"And same with DJ; the bowlers sometimes in the heat of the moment of the game, they forget the things what we planned for specific batsman and DJ is always there to remind them what we had planned and what we are doing. So that's the kind of discussion we always have and I feel there are some players who need reminders, some players they have things in their mind and experience. So, our side, once they are well guided, I think they know where to go and how to deliver."

Afghanistan also didn't shy away from getting on Australia's nerves on the field, with wicket-guardian Rahmanullah Gurbaz giving a heavy dosage of verbals to Marcus Stoinis. Rashid felt that such characters were crucial for a team to maintain a high degree of intensity, especially during testing times.

"Well, some guys in the team, they need that kind of fire. Once they stay quiet, they forget how great they are and they need the kind of fire up in the middle. And to be honest, in this game, most happiest thing I have seen was the running between the wickets between Ibrahim and Gurbaz. And it all came from those sledging, I feel. They had that kind of conversation. While watching from outside, I felt like they had the competition with the fielders. I'm going to take two runs, I'm going to take one run and things like that. So, what happened with that is it kept them involved in the game, and they focused on scoring runs.

I think the advantage went to us because we had that perfect 100 run partnership. On a wicket like this, I think it's always a wicket of 130-140. If you have a decent bowling lineup, we have seen a couple of games before as well.

"So yeah, I think we should keep him [Gurbaz] the same in upcoming games as well... where he gets his own energy but we don't want him to stay silent. That's something some players do need - that fire-up."

There has been an unusual narrative to Afghanistan vs Australia games in recent times. Cricket Australia have repeatedly backed out of bilateral cricket with Afghanistan on the grounds of their opposition not having a women's team. Afghanistan are the only full-member side to not have a women's team and with the political situation in the country not conducive to pushing women's cricket, this situation seems unlikely to change in the near future. Rashid alongside Mohammad Nabi had often spoken up about the cancellation of these bilateral series, voicing their strong disapproval over CA's stand on the issue.

On a night when Afghanistan stunned Australia at the biggest stage of them all, Rashid chose to play down the sentiment of 'vengeance'. "Well, we are sportsmen and we love sports. People back home, they love sports. And I mentioned earlier, cricket is the only source of happiness back home. That's the only source left in Afghanistan where people could celebrate. And if we ward that source off, I don't know where Afghanistan will remain. Nowadays, all around the world, if you head off to some place, you ask someone, I'm from Afghanistan, the next thing he says, any of the cricketer's name... that he's playing there, he's playing there. But once you take this source and happiness as well from us, I think it's going to be hard as far as we're concerned.

"So we the sportsmen, we only think about cricket. Everyone is saying, sports bring nations together and brings everyone together. So, as far as I might be concerned, we're always happy to play against any side, and that's the only way where our cricket can improve day by day. Some things, which is not under the control of anyone in cricket, we can't make any kind of difference. Wish we could follow through with something, and wish there was a kind of solution for it, we would have been happy, but I don't know what's the solution for that. But we as a nation, know that [cricket] is the only source where we could play, appreciate, bring happiness to the country, and we get better day by day.

"So, we're happy to play any side, but some - as I mentioned earlier, some things, government, and political things, I don't know a lot of about these things and I don't like it as well. So, I have no answer for this, but my only thing always in the mind is I love to play against the big teams. I love to travel all around the world to play and I have received so much so much love from everyone. At the point when I go to Australia in Big Bash, I think I have got so much love and support from the fans there. They have given me so much love. Despite the fact that in 2022 World Cup, when we were playing in Adelaide against Australia, I got more support than them. And that was so satisfying. Playing there in Australia, I'm from Afghanistan and I'm getting that massive support and each city I go the enormous amount of support... people giving me so much love, hospitality, especially during the tough days of 2019 when my dad passed away, so that was the hardest time for me when I was in Australia. And the amount of affection and support I got from everyone in the team, and also the fans, I think I call them a family.

"So, I have so much fans there, so much people there. But as I said, I love to play wherever all around the world. And those things which are not under the control, and cricket is not the solution, I don't think we can bring sports into that. If there is other solution, you can take that. But don't think cricket is the solution of politics and things like that. So, yeah, if we play in World Cup, for what reason don't we play in bilateral series? I think we're happy to play against the best side. We learn from them. We get better day by day. But that's the only thing I can say.

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