Full member Afghanistan and qualifying country Netherlands will not be mere pushovers or make the numbers in the ICC World Cup 2023.
Afghanistan has already shown its strength and capabilities winning matches and competing well against many top countries in bilateral contest. Some of their key players regularly feature in major franchise cricket including IPL. Netherlands on the other hand qualified ahead. of teams like West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Scotland. No one should be surprised if Afghanistan or Netherlands win few matches in the tournament upsetting the dreams of the favorites. Afghanistan is very much used to Indian wickets and conditions as India is one of their adopted homes for practicing. Most of the players of the Netherlands play in English counties and leagues.
Afghanistan: Hasmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Ibrahim Zadran, Ramanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Riaz Hasan, Nazibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ibrahim Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Noor Ahmed, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Fazal Haq Farooqi
Afghans are known world over as a team having match winning top quality spinners. Rashid Khan is among the top white ball bowlers and valued high in IPL, Big bash, PSL, CPL and LPL. Mystery bowlers Mujeeb and Noor Ahmed also rock at international level. Add with that steady and mature Mohammad Nabi. Afghans will be a difficult team to deal with if wickets favor spin. Fazal Haq Farooqi is also a quality pacer who can take few wickets at the top with his steady swing and movement. They have some concerns with their batting as appeared in the recent Asia Cup. But on their days Ramanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran can tear apart any bowling attack. Rahmat Shah and Nazibullah Zadran are also quality batsmen. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan add depth in the batting. If Afghans can score 280-300 consistently their strong and penetrative bowling will test a few teams and may cause headache for the favorites. We are sure no team will take them easy at all.
Netherlands: Scot Edwards (Captain). Colin Ackerman, Shiraz Ahmed, Wesley Barresi, Logan Van Beek, Aryan Dutt, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Ryan Klein, Bas De Leede, Paul Van Meekeren, Roleof van Der Merwee, Max O’Dowd, William Singh and Saqib Zulfiqar
Let me fair and honest. We have not much knowledge about Netherlands, toddlers among the big fish. Apart from their steady and brilliant performance in the world cup qualifying matches in Zimbabwe we do not have much knowledge. The manners in which they won the challenges against formidable oppositions like West Indies, Zimbabwe and more fancied sides like Ireland and Scotland evidenced the orange army may not be mere push overs. Captain Edwards, players like Wesley Barresi, Bas De Leede Max O’Dowd play professional cricket in England. Some players had their origin in India and Pakistan. An unknown unit has nothing to lose. If they only play with the same spirit and enthusiasm, they may cause some surprise. But it will be tall ask for them.
In conclusion we must say ICC World Cup 2023 will be a wide-open tournament. England as reigning champions and India as top ranked team having home advantage start as favorites. But 5 times champions Australia, very strong South Africa, formidable New Zealand, and highly competitive Pakistan may also not be taken lightly. Even Bangladesh, Sri Lanka are dark horses. Afghanistan or even minnow Netherlands may cause a few upsets. Let us hope that wet weather does not cause major interferences. World is already in the grip of cricket fever. England introducing Bazball brand has almost changed the complexion of the game. They play all format of cricket in the same vein as hit and run T20 cricket. India and Pakistan are endeavoring to copy, and others are trying. Let us hope that the teams play dynamic cricket and entertain the cricket lovers across the world.
BDST: 0709 HRS, OCT 01, 2023