Afghanistan has a strong element of surprise
Afghanistan, the relatively new entrant in the international cricket arena, could create upsets during ICC 2019 World Cup as they have a considerable batting lineup comprising of Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan who are expected to score the bulk of runs for the team. The presence of world class spinners Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb ur Rahman make the squad look quite intimidating on the bowling front.
The Afghanistan cricket board has created an upset of sorts among its players by appointing Gulbadin Naib as the captain in place of experienced Asghar Afghan, just few weeks before the start of the global showpiece event. The decision however has not gone down well with senior pros like Rashid and Nabi who have questioned the timing of the
Asghar had led them since mid-2015 after Nabi had stepped down, and had overseen their winning the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier as well as their first ever Test match win against Ireland.
The Afghanistan squad reflects continuity in selection and a belief in experience, with most of their players being part of the same squad that won the 2018 Qualifier and regularly featuring in Afghanistan’s ODI team.
The large contingent of all-rounders and bowlers reflects an emphasis on bowling teams out. But Afghanistan’s progress in the World Cup will mainly depend on how effective their bowlers are at taking wickets during the middle overs.
Too much of dependence on Shahzad for fast starts may haunt them as the tournament progresses, and a reliance on the spin bowling of Rashid, Mujeeb and Nabi may also be detrimental in the long run, even though their bowling will prove more useful on the drier pitches expected towards the middle of the summer.
This will be Afghanistan’s second appearance in the World Cup. They made their World Cup debut in 2015, where they won only one game out of the total six played.