Kolkata: Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is now the coach of Afghanistan, was all praise for his team's gritty performance against Sri Lanka during their narrow six-wicket loss in a World T20 match here.
Afghanistan had rode on their skipper Asghar Stanikzai's 62 to post a challenging 153/7 but it was Tillakaratne Dilshan who steered the defending champions home with an unbeaten 83 from 56 balls in their Group 1 Super 10 match yesterday.
"We needed experience especially when we're taking on the world champions. But we gave them some tough time. We could have won but Sri Lanka were an experienced side and are the defending champions and handled the pressure well," the Pakistani batting great said at the post match news conference.
Inzamam was also full praise for skipper Stanikzai who led by example by stitching 61 from 33 balls alongwith Samiullah Shenwari (31) to demolish the Lankans attack after they were 51-4 in the first 11 overs.
"The way the boys did not give up, speaks a lot... We always fought against a team who're defending champions. In batting also we were stuck but despite that the lower order showed the way. It was necessary to carry the innings forward with some big hits. Not only did the captain but all the players contributed," he said.
"The more International exposure we get, the better we would become. We batted and bowled well but yes there were some fielding lapses. It was all because of the pressure of a big tournament. We displayed some good cricket and would improve.
"I can't say how much time we will take. But the way we're improving and putting hardwork, you will see Afghanistan in a good shape and play some good cricket." The Lankans were in a spot of bother with 85/3 but Dilshan held his nerves to make the difference as they won with seven balls to spare.
"They're seasoned campaigner in T20Is. Dilshan took the game away single handedly. I'm not at all disappointed. We will give our 100 per cent in the remaining matches," Inzamam said.
The 46-year-old former batsman said they would have fancied their chances if they could have managed a score of 170-plus.
"We could have put some pressure. But we were stuck in the first 10 overs." Asked to comment on India-Pakistan high voltage match tomorrow, he said with a smile: "I'm Afghan coach..."