The 18-year-old leg-spinner, Noor Ahmad, made an impressive World Cup debut, claiming three key wickets, including those of the opposing captain, Babar Azam, and the prolific run-scorer, Mohammad Rizwan.Meanwhile, the 21-year-old opening batsmen,Ibrahim Zadran, and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, formed a formidable partnership by amassing 130 runs for the first wicket, setting the stage for a sensational eight-wicket victory.
Trott, a former England batsman, hailed the extraordinary talents of these young players, stating, “I think the two opening batters that we have are very, very exceptionally talented young players, and the sky’s the limit for both of them. They’re different types of players, and my message to them is just to keep growing your own game and play your way.”
Trott emphasised how well they performed and the pressure they exerted on world-class bowlers, as seen in their remarkable partnership.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz, only 14 days older than Ibrahim Zadran, has already notched up five centuries and four fifties in his 31-match ODI career. His pivotal 80 in an earlier World Cup victory over defending champions England highlighted his significance to the Afghan team.
Ibrahim Zadran boasts four hundreds and five fifties in his 24 ODI matches, with an impressive average of just under 50. Trott underlined the importance of their strong start, noting, “The turning point for me was the start that Ibrahim and Gurbaz gave us. I think that’s always good when you’re chasing a total like that; you need a good start, putting less pressure on the players coming in. They were outstanding.”
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Despite his youth, left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad is no stranger to the spotlight. At the tender age of 15, he was signed by the Melbourne Renegades to play in the Big Bash League in December 2020. Monday’s match was only his fourth ODI appearance, and he has participated in just one Twenty20 international. However, his memorable T20 debut last year saw him claim 4-10 against Zimbabwe when he was just 17.
Trott praised Noor Ahmad’s remarkable talents, saying, “The sky’s the limit for him too. You know, you take the mitt to him, you’re standing up when he’s practising, you hear that ball fizzing. It’s a real talent for such a young lad to be able to get that many revs on the ball and spin it as much as he does.”
With this victory, Afghanistan secured their second win in the World Cup against three defeats, reigniting their hopes of reaching the semi-finals. Their next challenge awaits in a match against 1996 champions Sri Lanka in Pune next Monday.
Trott remained cautious about labelling a potential win over Sri Lanka as an upset, stating, “I think when we say an upset, I think it’s a disservice to the guys in the changing room.” He believes that teams can gain form during the World Cup and win crucial games, emphasising the resilience and determination of his team.
(With inputs from AFP)