Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman said he is very happy to be included in the squad for the upcoming World Cup and hopes that the team will be able to reach the semi-final stage of the tournament. “I am very happy that I am included in the World Cup squad. I have learnt a lot of things after playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL). I hope the team will perform well in the upcoming World Cup,” Rahman told ANI on Tuesday. “We have practiced on very different pitches, I hope that we play in the semi-finals of the tournament,” he added.
The player said the decision to pass captaincy from Asghar Afghan to Gulbadin Naib was taken by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), adding that the team has the quality to perform well in the World Cup. “It was a decision taken by the board. Both the former captain and current captain are in the team, so I do not think it will affect the team’s performance much in the World Cup,” Rahman said. “Everyone knows that we have quality in the spin bowling department. As you saw in the Asia Cup, our team has quality and we are hoping that we are able to perform nicely in the World Cup.”
Afghanistan chief selector Daulat Khan Ahmadzai said the team is “pretty balanced” in every department. He went on to say that since the team has played county, players are acclimatised to playing in English conditions. “As far as selection and preparation are concerned, we are pretty confident. We have experience in our lineup and our bowling is pretty settled, so we hope we are able to record good performances in the World cup,” Ahmadzai said. “As far as batting is concerned, we are confident. We have senior players and even Rashid Khan has started to bat nicely. Rashid and Mujeeb have played county cricket. The spinners we have can perform well in any type of condition,” he added.
When the ACB decided to change the captaincy, both Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi took to Twitter to express their disappointment, but the selector said everything has now been sorted and the decision was taken keeping future of the team in mind. “Everything has been sorted. Some players got emotional and shared their personal views. The top management decided to opt for Gulbadin Naib for the betterment of the team. Some players will go into transition phase going forward, so we opted to change the captaincy,” Ahmadzai said.
Afghanistan Cricket CEO Asadullah Khan thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for providing the team with a home ground in Dehradun. He also said the team does not only participate in big tournaments like the World Cup, rather they want to win and play good cricket. “I would like to thank BCCI for providing us with support and home ground. This opportunity is very big for us and we are looking for sponsors in our bilateral series and in our leagues,” Khan told ANI.
“We have number one bowler in the world and we have many star players like Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib. We are just not participating, we want to win and play good cricket,” he added. Afghanistan’s 15-member squad for the World Cup include, 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.
The team will take on Pakistan and England in the warm-up matches before the World Cup on May 24 and 27, respectively. Afghanistan takes on Australia in their opening match of the World Cup on June 1.