Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput tipped Afghanistan to cause a few upsets at the World Cup after they named their 15-man side for the quadrennial event.
Rajput expects Afghanistan’s spin attack to make some inroads. “Afghanistan have got one of the best bowling attacks, especially [their] spinners,” Rajput was quoted as saying by PTI.
“In England. if there is a good day whee the ball grips and spins, I think they will change some of the games and they will upset some of the top teams as well,” he added.
Pacer Hamid Hassan and former captain Asghar Afghan were on Monday named in Afghanistan’s squad, headlined by Indian Premier League stars Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi.
Gulbadin Naib will lead the team which also features Mohammad Shahzad and spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman. Afghan was removed as captain in all formats earlier this year.
“Their batting is little bit on a slower side [and] playing in England, especially for batsman when it is helpful wicket, it will very difficult [and] you have [to] adjust to it,” the former India team manager said.
“But on a bowling front, they would upset some of the bigger teams on a day where the ball grips. The main game-changer in their team is Mohammad Shahzad and if he gets going in the first half an hour or 45 minutes and he can get quick runs and can really change [the game]. Overall I think, they are the team to watch [out for],” Rajput said.
Rashid Khan will be an important cog in Afghanistan’s the wheel and Rajput, who has seen the leg-spinner from close quarters, dubbed him as a “match-winner”.
“Rashid Khan is a match-winner and with his experience with IPL, Big Bash, Caribbean League and he knows how to win matches,” he said.
“A lot of people have started hitting him, but as I said in England, if it is a helpful wicket where the ball grips so it will be difficult to hit him.
“He [Rashid] will be a game-changer and with [Mohammed) Nab] – with his bowling and batting and Mujeeb [ur Rahman] they have got three best spinners in their team. I feel these spinners can turn the tables on some of the top teams.”
Asked to name the four teams that will reach the semi-final stage, Rajput said: “India, England, Australia.....and the fourth team will be one of Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand.”