Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib pleaded with his batsmen to remain calm in the middle after a collapse consigned them to a nine-wicket defeat against South Africa.
They lost their last eight wickets for just 56 runs against South Africa
Missed opportunity against Proteas side who had yet to win at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup
Put into bat under cloudy skies, his side negotiated the new ball impressively – surviving Kagiso Rabada’s natural seam and probing length.
They reached 69/2 but after a second rain delay they promptly lost five wickets for eight runs and eventually fell to 125 all out.
A sudden burst of wickets is becoming a worrying trend for Afghanistan, who fell from 66/0 to 70/4 against New Zealand last week and Naib has urged his players to keep their cool.
“Every time I’m saying to the batsman, control your nerves. We need calm cricket in the middle. Everyone is trying to put a score on the board so we have an opportunity to defend it,” he said.
“We did not play a 50-over game because we did not last. We have played a lot of cricket in the last few years but there is pressure on the team.
“We lost the toss so we did not take responsibility enough and that was the difference.”
The leg-spin of 40-year-old Imran Tahir did the damage on a green surface, as he clean bowled Noor Ali with his first ball before finishing with figures of 4/29.
Afghanistan have their own leg-spin maestro in Rashid Khan – the no.1 ranked T20 bowler in the world – but he did not extract the same amount of joy from the Cardiff pitch.
South Africa’s Quinton de Kock (68) and Hashim Amla (41) saw the Proteas home by nine wickets and Naib admits they were surprised by the amount of spin Tahir generated.
“He is a world-class spinner but we are used to leg-spin in the camp, so we are playing it every day in the nets,” he said.
“But we are not expecting Imran Tahir like that. He's a world-class spinner now; he did well also in the IPL.
“South Africa is a good side but if you look for the last three games, they didn't play well.
“We had a good opportunity to play against them but we missed it. So credit goes again to their bowlers and also the conditions, it's bad luck we missed the toss. South Africa were just the better team.”