Trott hopes Afghanistan learns from semi-final loss to achieve greater heights

Despite missing out on a berth in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 final, Afghanistan’s journey in the tournament has been nothing short of inspirational. Their campaign ended with a disheartening loss to South Africa in the first semi-final, but the Afghan team has proven themselves on the global stage over the last 12 months.

In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Afghanistan defeated top-ranked sides including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and England, finishing sixth in the league table. In the Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, they reached their maiden World Cup semi-final, defeating cricketing giants like New Zealand and Australia.

Focusing on the positives, head coach Jonathan Trott shared his insights on how he expects the players to learn from their experiences. “I’m sure the guys hopefully learn from this experience,” Trott said in the post-match press conference. “We got one step further than the previous 50-over World Cup in November. It’s about taking it step by step and hopefully learning from today, especially the batters.”

Trott emphasized the importance of adapting to international cricket and finding ways to win against strong opponents on challenging pitches. “We’ve found ways of winning games, we just couldn’t find a way today,” he added.

Afghanistan’s openers, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, have been exceptional throughout the season. The duo recorded the second-highest first-wicket partnership in the T20 World Cup, scoring 154 runs in their opening fixture against Uganda. With two more 100-plus runs partnerships against New Zealand (103 runs) and Australia (118 runs), they have become only the second opening pair to register three 100-plus runs stands in the T20 World Cup, alongside Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

However, the middle order has struggled, and Trott acknowledged the need for more consistent performances from top and middle-order batters. “South Africa bowled well and adapted to the conditions. Our middle order hasn’t fired enough this World Cup,” Trott said. “We’ve perhaps been too reliant on Gurbaz and Ibrahim. We need to get more batters who can score runs consistently.”

Afghanistan’s fast bowlers also stood out in this campaign. Fazalhaq Farooqi (17 wickets) and Naveen-ul-Haq (13 wickets) capitalized on conducive conditions, especially during night matches. Trott credited West Indies legend Dwayne Bravo, who served as the bowling consultant, for his significant contributions. “Dwayne’s been immense and a great guy to have around the dressing room,” Trott said. “He’s been brilliant, and it’s been great to have him with his professional attitude, which has certainly rubbed off on the players.”

Looking ahead, Trott emphasized the importance of building a balanced team with strong middle-order batters. “That’s the project going forward, in all formats,” he said. “Getting middle-order batters and top-order batters like Ibrahim and Gurbaz is the focus for now.”