Combination skilled proven T20 specialists and raw quality talents Afghanistan may shock one or two title aspirants. From my close links with Afghans and knowing their never to die attitude can tell my readers that they are tough cookies.
The recent turmoil in Afghanistan would not at all make any impacts. They would not be push overs at all. Placed in a group having New Zealand, India, Pakistan and possibly qualifiers Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Afghanistan may shock few teams upsetting the balance. They have few match winners. Afghans have fair knowledge of the Wickets of UAE. The wickets may suit spin heavy bowling attack. The team has array of diverse spinners some orthodox, some unorthodox. If only their batsmen produce 170+ runs somehow even teams like India and Pakistan may struggle to cruise past that target. Even if Afghans do not advance from the group, they can change the balance in that team or teams losing to them may get knocked out.
Cricket is the only binding glue of Afghans in Afghanistan and wherever they live. Eleven Talibans enjoy every win of Afghan cricket team. I have personal experience. I lived in Kabul for four years. For the last two years lived in Shah Re Now is a protected guesthouse right in front of Afghanistan Cricket Board. I have seen Afghan team playing at Dubai and Sarja. I have also seen Rashid, Nabi, Mujeeb play Big Bash In Melbourne. I know something very deep how their application for full membership got positive evaluation. Afghans in the shortest possible time got into elite club proving worthy of it. Their affiliation unlike others was not conditional for a mandatory provision of having a women’s team.
Star man Rashid Khan will spearhead the attack, and has been joined by fellow all-rounders Mohammad Nabi and Sharafuddin Ashraf in the squad. Front-line spinners Qais Ahmad and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are also included in the Afghanistan roster for the tournament.
Afghanistan will launch their World Cup Mission in Sharjah on 25 October against the winners of Group B from the tournament’s first round – one of Bangladesh, Oman, Papua New Guinea or Scotland.
Afghanistan will also be joined in Group 2 by India, New Zealand and Pakistan, plus the runners-up from the other qualifying pool. Afghanistan have won three men’s T20 internationals in their history against the full members of the tournament’s Super 12, out of a total of 14 fixtures. All three of those victories came against the West Indies.
Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen ul Haq, Hamid Hassan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Qais Ahmad
Reserves: Afsar Zazai, Farid Ahmed Malik
Zadrans –Dawlat and Shahpoor are now matured operators of new ball. They have with them crafty operators Hamid Hassan and Naveen ul Haq. Add to them top ranked leg spinner Rashid Khan, mystery spinner Mujeeb, steady spinner Nabi. Can there be any better horses for the courses bowling attack. If only Rahmatullah Gurbaz, Hashmatullah Zazai can give good starts, najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Shahzad, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi can carry forward, Rashid Khan and Hasmatullah Shahidi can produce some hefty blows Afghans can score 170 plaus. If that happens any team would struggle getting past that target.
I would cheer for great Afghans in matches other than against Bangladesh and Australia for obvious reasons.
BDST: 1331 HRS, SEP 22, 2021