Press Trust of india

Fitness is big issue, boys are struggling: Gulbadin

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Leeds, Jul 5 :  Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib stressed on the importance of fitness to be more competitive in world cricket after they finished their campaign with yet another loss at the ongoing World Cup here.

Afghanistan ended their World Cup campaign without a win after going down by 23 runs to West Indies on Thursday in their last outing here.

"The fitness is a big issue, the boys are struggling. If you play professional cricket in each and every department you must be fit and 100 per cent. If you are not fit nothing will go well," Gulbadin said.

"We learned a lot at this World Cup and know what we need to work on to improve ourselves, we'll take the positive things and keep trying hard. We've achieved so much as a team in a short time and, after the World Cup, it is not the end of our cricket."

Teenage wicketkeeper batsman Ikram Alikhil, who was included in the team after an injury to Mohammad Shahzad, scored an impressive 86, sharing a 133-run second wicket partnership with Rahmat Shah as Afghanistan posted 288, their highest in the competition.

Gulbadin was effusive in his praise for the young batsman.

"He played very well. I'm upset he missed a century, which is a big moment for anyone," he said.

"He's played a lot of cricket in the last two or three years and he proved himself here. We have a lot of youngsters like him coming forward, which is great for the team and for the country.

"We have a lot of talent back in Afghanistan. I hope the other guys, if they are given the chance, will come forward too," added Gulbadin.

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