“We were never communicated those calculations. All we were communicated was we needed to win in 37.1 overs.”
Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott has confirmed that his team was unaware of the calculations that meant they were in with a chance of qualifying for the Asia Cup Super Four even after they had failed to reach their target of 292 in the stipulated 37.1 overs against Sri Lanka.
At the end of the 37th over, Afghanistan were 289 for 8, which meant they needed three runs off one ball to win while bettering Sri Lanka’s net run rate (NRR). Going for a big hit off Dhananjaya de Silva, Mujeeb Ur Rahman was caught on the long-on boundary, following which the non-striker Rashid Khan sank to his knees, presumably in the belief – later confirmed by Trott – that Afghanistan had lost their chance.
They were still not out of it, though. They could’ve finished above Sri Lanka on net run rate if they got to 293 after 37.2 overs, 294 after 37.3, 295 after 37.5, 296 after 38 overs, or 297 after 38.1. They could have achieved these targets if their No. 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi had hit a four off the second ball of the 38th over; a six off the third, fourth or fifth ball; or taken a single to allow Rashid – who was batting on 27 off 16 balls – to try and finish the game himself.
As it turned out, Farooqi blocked two balls from de Silva – including a full-toss – before he was out lbw while trying to defend again. He seemed to be making an effort to make sure he did not get out so that Rashid could finish the game in the next over and give Afghanistan a consolation win. It didn’t work out, and Afghanistan went out of the tournament with defeats in both their Group B games.
During post-match press conference, Trott said the match officials had not informed his team of the finer NRR permutations.
“We were never communicated those calculations,” he said. “All we were communicated was we needed to win in 37.1 overs. We weren’t told what the overs in which we could get 295 or 297. [That we could win in] 38.1 overs was never communicated to us.”
While teams rely on match officials to a certain extent for information, NRR calculations are fairly straightforward, and are usually the preserve of the analysts who are part of most high-profile teams’ backroom contingents. There have been precedents to Afghanistan’s situation as well, notably Mumbai Indians’ frenetic chase against Rajasthan Royals to qualify for the IPL 2014 playoffs. Set a target of 190 in 14.3 overs, they got to 189 in that time, but ensured they achieved their net-run-rate target by hitting the next ball for six to finish on 195 in 14.4 overs.
Trott refused to pin down any one reason for Afghanistan’s exit, but felt his bowlers could have done better both in this game and their first one against Bangladesh, where they conceded a first-innings total of 334.
“I don’t think there’s one reason we lost the game,” Trott said. “There are areas of the game we could have done better [in] and that goes for today’s game and the one against Bangladesh. We got some things horribly wrong in a few areas and it’s cost us. It’d be nice if we’d bowled them out a bit cheaper. But it wasn’t to be.”
Source : ESPN