Afghanistan announced their 15-member World Cup squad on Monday that saw the surprising return of seam bowler Hamid Hassan after nearly three years. Asghar Afghan, who was removed as captain by the Afghanistan Cricket Board, also found a place in the squad.
The cricket board has stuck with their decision of appointing Gulbadin Naib as ODI captain, despite coming under criticism from players like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi for stripping Afghan of his captaincy role.
Former captain Afghan is expected to play a crucial role in Afghanistan’s middle-order along with Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Naib and Najibullah Zadran. The presence of seaming all-rounder Nabi, Rashid and Samiullah Shinwari means that Afghanistan will bat fairly deep.
As for the openers, either Noor Ali Zadran and Hazratullah Zazai will partner wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad. Javed Ahmadi, who was also in the race, didn’t make the cut.
Hassan replaced Shapoor Zadran, whose ODI form has been poor off late, while the other pacers in the side are Dawlat Zadran and Aftab Alam.
In the spin department, Afghanistan has a reliable bunch with Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi as the crux of the bowling.
“Luckily for us, the comeback of senior fast bowler Hamid Hassan is a good news,” Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai, the chief selector, was quoted as saying by the ICC. “However, we will take into account his form and fitness during upcoming practice matches.”
“It is has been a six-month preparation process for the ICC Cricket World Cup. The mission is to play inspirational cricket in the tournament; I know there are strong teams but we will do our level best to achieve our goals,” said Ahmadzai. “There were some challenges that we needed to handle. We selected the best squad considering factors such as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.”
Afghanistan have also picked three reserve options in Ikram Ali Khil, Karim Janat and Sayed Shirzad. Ikram Ali Khil is a top-order batsman and can be a back-up wicket-keeper while the other two are seam-bowling options.
Squad: Gulbadin Naib (captain), 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, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.