Men's ODI WC: 'Sky’s the limit', Jonathan Trott hails youngsters after stunning win over Pakistan

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Chennai, October 24 (IANS) Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott has lavished praise on his side's young openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran after the stunning eight-wicket win over Pakistan at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, saying "sky's the limit" for the match-winning youngsters.

Set 283 to win at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Monday, Afghanistan made a brilliant start to their chase with Gurbaz making a 53-ball 65 while his opening partner Zadran anchored the innings with a 113-ball 87 as they raised 130 runs for the first wicket.

Rahmat Shah, who scored an unbeaten 77 off 84 deliveries and shared an unbeaten 86-run partnership for the third wicket with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (48 not out), played a key role as Afghanistan reached 286/2 in 49 overs after restricting Pakistan to 282/7 in 50 overs.

This is Afghanistan's second upset in this tournament after they stunned defending champions England by 69 runs a few days back. This was their highest-ever chase in ODI history.

"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, there's less pressure on the players coming in. And it makes their job easier," Trott was quoted by ICC.

Both opening batters are still just 21 years old and have lit up the early weeks of this tournament. And Trott said it is terrific for the two to have the opportunity to show just how good they are on the world stage.

"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 in different ways. They're different types of players and my message to them is just keep growing your own game and play your own way.

"Have a look at what the team needs you to do and try and play accordingly within your own game plan. And we saw that tonight," said Trott

Trott revealed that the team had a clear strategy as to how they went about their reply.

“I don't want to give too much away, but I said ‘we're not going to be able to win this game in 35-40 overs, we're going to have to bat well for 50 overs. We broke it down into 10-over splits, and the start that Gurbaz and Ibrahim gave us meant we were well ahead of where we thought we should have to be.

"It sort of allowed us a little bit more breathing room come the end of the game. And made sure that we had the opportunity to finish the game off in the 49th over and we did so that was great," said Trott.

“We saw how well they can play and how much pressure they can put on opposition bowlers, world-class bowlers as well. I thought that the calmness, certainly when the spin came on, there were some balls that spun. I thought they held their shape really well and you know always looked in control which is one of the most important things as a batsman to be able to do and send a calming message back to the change room," he added.

Afghanistan’s approach with the ball on a turning surface in Chennai was always likely to hinge on spin, and 38 overs of spin did much of the work in the first innings.

“I think whenever Afghanistan plays, the way the spinners bowl is going to be important. I think it's a case of just having a look at the conditions. I think when you've got the options like we do it’s foolish not to use them," Trott said.

The pick of the spinners was youngster Noor Ahmad, who came into the side and took 3/49 with a brilliant individual performance. Trott said the spinner’s talent suggests he could have a phenomenal career.

"The way Noor came in was great and I thought the way that he bowled, the sky's the limit for him. He would have been nervous, there's maybe a bit of room for consistency, make sure he works on that, but as soon as he got that length right, he spins the ball so much.

"It's a real talent for such a young lad to be able to get that many revs on the ball and spin it the amount he does. That’s all I say to him just keep spinning it as much as you can.

“I think he played in the IPL final, you know, and for a youngster of his age, you know, it's an amazing experience for him. So, he can bring that experience to here and put in performances like he did," he concluded

Afghanistan will have plenty of time to revel in their success, with the team’s next match coming in a week’s time against Sri Lanka in Pune.