Afghanistan chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai on Tuesday justified the unexpected sacking of one-day international skipper Asghar Afghan ahead of the upcoming World Cup, saying the decision was taken looking at the long-term future of the team.
The three-member selection panel led by Ahmadzai announced three captains for three formats last month, in a move that led to unrest in the team with star players Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi openly voicing their concerns over the timing of the decision.
“We realised that we can’t win the World Cup at this moment under Asghar’s captaincy or anyone else who would have been in charge. We made the decision not just thinking about this World Cup, we are thinking about the 2023 edition.
“We will be getting 10 matches with full members and we feel it will provide perfect training for the new captain [Gulbadin Naib],” said Ahmadzai, who is a former Afghanistan fast bowler, in response to a PTI query.
Asked about the need for announcing split captaincy less than two months from the World Cup, the chief selector said: “Like you are expressing your concern to me, there were concerns expressed by the players [Rashid and Nabi] and the entire issue was handled professionally.
“They felt it was not the right time to change captaincy but later understood that it was in the best interest of the team.”
Asghar was the captain in all formats but now Naib will lead the team at the World Cup, Rashid in T20s and Rahmat Shah in Tests.
Ahmadzai insisted Naib is the right choice to captain Afghanistan in ODIs.
“The team members, including Rashid and Nabi, are now happy for Gulbadin. He is not a new man. He has been playing for 17 years and has captaincy experience at the first-class and U-19 level.
“Asghar himself has said that Gulbadin is like his younger brother who believes that Asghar’s experience will come in handy in the World Cup. They are a united front now. Changes happen. Sri Lanka also changed their captain,” said Ahmadzai referring to Naib, who has played 52 ODIs and 38 T20 Internationals.
On a lighter note, Afghanistan CEO Asadullah Khan, who was sitting alongside the chief selector, said: “MS Dhoni also plays under Virat Kohli.”
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