Lance Klusener, who took over as Afghanistan head coach in late September, has prioritised improvement in T20 cricket for the team.
Afghanistan are No.8 on the MRF Tyres ICC Men's T20I Team Rankings. The format has been a strength for them: Since the start of 2017, they've lost only one T20I series. Recently in India, against the West Indies, they came back from behind to claim the three-match series.
Now, with the ICC Men's T20 World Cup coming up in Australia in 2020, and the next edition soon after in India in 2021, Klusener wants them to take their game to another level. For the next few months, the former South African all-rounder is firmly focused on success at the Asia Cup and T20 World Cups.
Afghanistan's bilateral T20I series record since January 2018:— ICC (@ICC) November 18, 2019
2-0 v Zimbabwe ✔️
3-0 v Bangladesh ✔️
2-0 v Ireland ✔️
3-0 v Ireland ✔️
2-1 v West Indies ✔️
They last lost a T20I series in June 2017 🤯 pic.twitter.com/lQRgT7Lert
"We had a great comeback in the T20 series [against West Indies. Afghanistan's strength is T20 cricket," he explained his plans in a video posted by the Afghanistan Cricket Board. "Our challenge is always to score enough runs.
"The talent is there, it's amazing, it's young, it's fresh, but sometimes in big games and against very good opposition, it's about decision making, and that has let us down a little bit."
As part of the process of improvement, Afghanistan are set to have a 10-day camp in Dubai in January. The focus there, Klusener explained, will be on batting, especially on attacking pace bowling with pulls and cuts, as well as perfecting their sweeping against spin. He urged the batsmen to build on their starts and also aim for partnerships of around 80 in the shortest format.
"And the non-negotiable for me is fielding."
Klusener is thrilled with the team he has on his hands – "It's a wonderful family to be a part of" – and is excited at the talent coming through the ranks. A good blend of "energetic youth" and "some cool heads" will work best for the team, he felt.
"We need experienced shoulders, and we need brave young talent," he said. "We need to nurture that talent, we need to help it, grow it, and show consistency in selection. Yes, youngsters do frustrate us sometimes but that's why it's important that our batting in the middle has some experience around them and cool heads around them."
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