DUBAI: Legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan feels if Afghanistan continues bowling the way they did against Scotland, the team can be a "real threat" in the ongoing T20 World Cup. Afghanistan strolled to a 130-run victory over Scotland in their opening match of Group 2 in T20 World Cup 2021 on Monday.
"I have been amazed by the Afghanistan spinners, they have been the pick of the bowlers so far for me. It is true that they were perhaps playing one of the weaker teams but the way Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan bowled against Scotland was incredible - the batters were mesmerised. If they can bowl like that in other matches, then they can be a real threat," said Muralitharan in an ICC release.
Sri Lanka had won the ODI World Cup in 1996 and Muralitharan said Afghanistan remind him a bit of the Sri Lanka team since the side had "a lot of experienced batters and then some good young bowlers". "In some ways, they remind me a bit of Sri Lanka when we won the 50-over ICC Men's World Cup in 1996. It is too soon to tell really but if their three spinners bowl well, you never know what could happen," said Muralitharan
"When I think back to 1996, we had a lot of experienced batters and then some good young bowlers. The conditions helped us, we were very strong at home throughout the 1990s and we knew how to play the conditions. It was not a fluke, we had the talent," he said.
"The same is true of Afghanistan, you have Mohammad Nabi who has been playing for a long time and then some promising young batters - Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz did well against Scotland," he added.
Muralitharan explained why Afghanistan are the "dark horses" in the ongoing T20 World Cup. "That is without even considering the spinners. In the shorter form, they have a lot of experience from playing franchise cricket. So I do not see why they cannot be dark horses in this tournament," said Muralitharan.