A Formidable Batting Lineup

Ashwin praises Afghanistan's batting prowess in the 50-over format. He specifically mentions the impressive performances of Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi. 

Gurbaz's success in the IPL has elevated his stature, while Shahidi anchors the innings with his composed batting. Ashwin also highlights the presence of powerful finishers like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, who add depth to the batting order.

"Rahmanullah Gurbaz's IPL stint has taken him into a different league," said Ashwin. "He scored a 145-odd in the second ODI. Is he the only batter for them? No. They have their captain Hashmatullah Shahidi. He is anchoring the innings till 50 overs like how Gary Kirsten used to bat in those days. They have the finishers in Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. Now they have found a talented opener in Ibrahim Zadran."

Rising Asian Contenders

Reflecting on previous World Cups held in the subcontinent, Ashwin draws attention to the fact that India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka were the top Asian teams that made it to the semi-finals in 2011. 

This time, Ashwin suggests that Afghanistan is emerging as one of the frontrunners among the Asian giants. He sees them as a potential contender to secure a spot in the semi-finals, given their growing stature and strong performances in recent times.

"The last time when the tournament took place in Asia, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka qualified for the semis. This time, Afghanistan have a chance to qualify for the semis as one of the Asian giants. They are forming as one of the giants of Asian cricket," said Ashwin.