New Delhi [India], Apr 22 (ANI): Afghanistan Cricket Board named its 15-man squad for the ICC Men's World Cup. The Gulbadin Naib-led side will open its campaign against title defenders Australia on June 1 at Bristol.
Gulbadin NaibThe leadership change is no surprise, having been announced before preparatory camp. Naib took over Asghar Afghan, who led the side to become a full member of the ICC, winning World Cup Qualifier last year and registering first-ever Test win over Ireland last month. On the other hand, Naib has never captained in an international game. So handing him the responsibility in a marquee event is risky but he could take this challenge as an opportunity and inject fresh energy going into the tournament.
Hamid HassanOne of the best pacers, Hassan's last international appearance came in 2016. He has been out of the squad due to prolonged injuries. His fitness will be a topic of discussion but Hassan's experience could add value in the squad. During the 2015 edition, Hassan picked up eight wickets in five matches, including 3/45 against Sri Lanka.
Spin trioAfghanistan have three front-line spinners in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb ur Rahman, keeping in mind the expected conditions in England. Samiullah Shinwari and Rahmat Shah can provide part-time options. Rashid and Nabi, who are ranked at number one and three, respectively, in the ICC ODI all-rounder rankings, will feature in most of the matches. Meanwhile, Rahman can win games with his mystery spinning but all of this will give the selectors a headache in fitting them all in the playing XI.
Hazratullah ZazaiZazai offers hard hitting at the top of the order. This year he scored 140 at an average of 35 and a strike rate over 100 all against Ireland in four ODIs. In T20Is against the same opponent, Zazai amassed 204 from three matches, including personal best 162 not out. In Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan have already an aggressive opener and Noor Ali Zadra is also an option. If the selectors pair Zazai and Shahzad, they can pose a serious threat.
Afghanistan will play against Pakistan and the host England on May 24 and 27 respectively, before starting its journey in the marquee event. (ANI)