Afghanistan open their 2018 Asia Cup campaign against Sri Lanka
Afghanistan open their 2018 Asia Cup campaign against Sri Lanka

Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons reckons that his team’s batsmen need to rise up to the standards set by their bowlers in international cricket, for Afghanistan to compete with the top team in the world.

“Bowlers are our strength and now we’ve been working very hard in trying to get the batsmen to understand that they have to meet the bowlers,” Simmons told Cricbuzz on the sidelines of the 2018 Asia Cup.

“The bowlers are not going to come down. They have to meet the bowlers. Even in the Test match, that was one of the big things. The batting has to get up there to where the bowlers are,” he said.

In their inaugural Test match against India in Bengaluru earlier this year, Afghanistan bowlers managed to bowl out India, but their batters were bundled twice in one day.

The likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman with their IPL and County experiences have been the backbone of Afghanistan’s consistent performances in the recent past. Before the Asia Cup, Afghanistan beat Ireland in the ODI series majorly owing to their bowler’s performance, but Simmons stressed that the batsmen also need to have the same kind of exposure.

“We want to have a batsman in the IPL for instance rather than three or two bowlers and an all-rounder, although Rashid will tell me he’s an all-rounder. That’s the big focus now, making sure our batting tries to get up to the level of the bowlers,” said Simmons who succeeded Lalchand Rajput as the head coach just over a month ago.

Last time Afghanistan played in the Asia Cup, there were not a full nation member, but four years on the Asian team is being looked at as one of the key players in the tournament and Simmons feels that the team heads in to any tournament with the aim of winning it, rather than to just try and compete.

“From my point of view, any tournament you go into, you want to try and win,” he said, adding, “What we are looking at is how we play cricket and the ability to play our at our best every time we go out there. That’s what we are looking at, to be at our best; half of the team to be at our best on the day and we’ll take it from there.”

Afghanistan open their 2018 Asia Cup campaign against Sri Lanka, who endured a heavy 137-run loss to Bangladesh in the first match of the tournament, and heading in to the clash against the five-time Asia cup winners, Afghanistan are being touted have the edge over the struggling islanders.