Asia Cup 2018: Where does Afghanistan’s win over Sri Lanka rank?
Rashid Khan took two wickets in Afghanistan's 91-run win over Sri Lanka. @AFP

Do you call it an upset?

Afghanistan’s 91-run win over Sri Lanka on Monday in game three of the 2018 Asia Cup has confirmed their presence in the Super Four stage of the tournament, while eliminating Angelo Mathews’ depleted team. This marked an impressive opening match for Asghar Afghan’s team at the Asia Cup, who now play Bangladesh on Thursday in Abu Dhabi to determine who tops the group.

This win has continued Afghanistan’s rise as a potent force in the limited-overs formats, coming as it does after a 3-0 T20I whitewash of Bangladesh in June and two wins over West Indies in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in March, to seal their ticket to next summer’s showpiece event. Beating Sri Lanka was their fourth over non-Associates opposition in ODIs, coming after three defeats of West Indies in 2017 and twice in the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe, which included a seven-wicket win in the final.

On that note, here’s a look at Afghanistan’s five biggest wins in ODIs.

By 32 runs vs Bangladesh, Fatullah, 2014

March 1, 2014 was the day Afghanistan won their first international match against a Test team. With it, they qualified for the ICC ODI rankings. Leading the way was the skipper Asghar Afghan with an unbeaten 90 off 103 balls, featuring six fours and three sixes, and backed by a rambunctious 81 off 69 from Samiullah Shenwari down the order, with 10 fours and a six, to get Afghanistan to 254/6. That late-order blitz by Shenwari proved match-winning in a landmark 32-run win in the team’s first Asia Cup.

A late-order blitz by Samiullah Shenwari proved match-winning in a landmark 32-run win in 2014.
A late-order blitz by Samiullah Shenwari proved match-winning in a landmark 32-run win in 2014. @AFP

The experienced pace pair of Hamid Hassan and Shapoor Zadran struck inside their first overs each to leave Bangladesh 2/1, and then the guile of Mohammad Nabi (3/44) took over as Bangladesh’s batsmen threw away starts. Mominul Haque (50), Nasir Hossain (41) and Naeem Islam (35) were all culpable in a collapse that saw the hosts slip to 165/6. Ziaur Rahman gave Afghanistan a scare with 41 off 22 balls, but once he became Nabi’s second wicket the chase gave way.

By 2 wickets vs Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, 2014

Four months later, Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe for the first time and was a crucial win that kept a four-match series alive (one that would end at 2-2). Having lost the first two ODIs, Afghanistan crept to a two-wicket win in the third chasing 262 in 49.4 overs. Javed Ahmadi (56), Usman Ghani (43), Shenwari (41) and the captain Nabi with 42 off 40 balls all played crucial roles in taking the match down to the wire, before Dawlat Zadran  slammed four sixes in an unbelievable 24 not out off seven balls. This win, against a Zimbabwe side featuring Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Elton Chigumbura and Sikandar Raza was a breakthrough one for Afghanistan, who since that day have gone on to regularly bully Zimbabwe.

Javed Ahmadi's 56 was the top score of Afghanistan's first ODI win over Zimbabwe
Javed Ahmadi’s 56 was the top score of Afghanistan’s first ODI win over Zimbabwe. @AFP

By 63 runs vs West Indies, St Lucia, 2017

Rashid Khan was at the forefront of this win, claiming historic figures of 7/18 in the first of three ODIs. Opener Ahmadi’s 81 helped Afghanistan make 212/6 after they batted, and then it was all over to Rashid who ran through an insipid West Indies batting lineup to finish wth the fourth-best figures in an ODI ever as the hosts careened to 149 in 44.overs.

Rashid was held back until the 23 over, but struck immediately with the wickets of Jason Mohammed and Roston Chase with his first two balls and then getting Shai Hope and Jason Holder with within two balls of his second over to have remarkable figures of 4/0. Rashid, aged 18, added three more to script Afghanistan’s first ODI win over Test-match opposition.

Rashid Khan was at the forefront of victory over West Indies with 7/18
Rashid Khan was at the forefront of victory over West Indies with 7/18. @FP

By 7 wickets vs West Indies, Harare, 2018

Another big win, one that capped a remarkable recover in qualifying for the 2019 World Cup and left Asghar Afghan to term it “Afghanistan’s greatest victory”. It came after they had come dangerously close to elimination after three successive defeats in the group stages of qualifying, before a stunning run of five wins in a row put Afghanistan into their second straight World Cup.

Starring in the final was teenaged spin sensation Mujeeb-ur-Rahman with 4/43 to help bowl out West Indies for 24 in 46.5 overs, and then Mohammad Shahzad with 84 and Rahmat Shah with 51 put Afghanistan on course for the win.

“This is nothing but a miracle that we have won this tournament,” said the skipper .”This is by far Afghanistan’s greatest victory. Beating the mighty Windies in the final of a tournament which is no less than a mini-World Cup, is something like a dream come true for all of us.

Mujeeb-ur-Rahman took 4/43 in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers final
Mujeeb-ur-Rahman took 4/43 in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers final. @Getty

By 91 runs vs Sri Lanka, Abu Dhabi, 2018

Batting first, Afghanistan made 249 on a slow pitch and their spinners did the rest to bowl out Sri Lanka for 158 in 41.2 overs. A measured half-century from Shah helped Afghanistan to a competitive 249, and chasing 250, Sri Lanka never looked settled against Afghanistan’s spinners as they played poor shots and ran poorly between the wickets to be bowled out for 158 in 41.2 overs. Sri Lanka thus became the fourth Test playing nation to have suffered defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in ODI history.