Afghanistan have been one of the most inspiring cricket stories in recent times. Even though they come as the underdogs who are playing their first World Cup, no team would take them lightly. Their players, especially their spinners, hold capability to win matches single-handedly on their days. the Afghans will start their campaign at the mega event on June 1 against the defending champions Australia.
The spinners, in the form of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and young Mujeeb ur Rehman, are their biggest strength and could undoubtedly form the best spinning unit in limited overs cricket now. Rashid, who is deemed as the most exciting spinner in cricket now, can make Afganistan win against any opponent with his variations. He, along with Mujeeb and Nabi, can make any batting unit look debilitated and bring them to their knees, which was evident during their Asia Cup tie against India which the ‘Men in Blue’ had escaped narrowly.
However, with nothing to lose, the Afghans are expected to express themselves freely and play fearless cricket as no one would judge them for failing. Instead, they will learn new things and whatever progress they make in the showpiece event is their gain and would be added to their experience to build a more formidable balanced unit in the future. It is believed they would use this opportunity to their full potential and would want to firmly establish themselves among the bigwigs of international cricket. Chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai had said while unveiling the team’s World Cup jersey in New Delhi that they are aiming to make it to the semi-finals. They will be playing more matches this time, which means that they have more opportunities to make it to the knockouts.
Their weakness in the tournament would be their fragile batting unit who failed miserably in their second warm-up match against England, and has been evident for some time now. They fell from 66/4 to 92/8 in just over 8 overs and showed how vulnerable the batting can get against a goof bowling unit. Sixty eight runs were added by the last two wickets because of which they reached a score of 160 but that was no match for the mighty English batting lineup
It’s not that they lack good batsmen but it’s their lack of consistency to perform on a bigger stage which hurts the team dearly. The team management would hope that Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan, all of whom are good at staying at the crease, would bat maturely and stroke makers Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai take the responsibility of firing away from other end.
Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman.