Afghanistan hopes their newly discovered batting confidence will improve their ability to spin

It hasn’t been easy for Afghanistan to prepare for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, but if their star players can deliver, the Asian team can generate some excitement in the coming weeks.

Squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.

Best performance at the competition

Sixth position in Pool A (2015 Cricket World Cup)

Although Afghanistan’s participation in the global mega event was competitive, they still lagged behind the nations that played Test cricket. They faced them five times, losing each time.

Their lone victory over Scotland was a thrilling victory. Afghanistan was in a desperate situation at 132/8 after bowling out the European team for 210 before a tenacious ninth wicket partnership between Samiullah Shinwari and Hamid Hassan lifted them to 192. Shinwari’s dismissal, though, allowed Scotland to reenter the contest. But Hassan and Shapoor Zadran maintained their composure and scored a one-wicket victory in the last over.

Afghanistan’s lone victory at the Cricket World Cup is still this one.

Results of the previous 10 ODI matches

L L L L L L W W L L (most recent first)

Fixtures

Dharamsala, 7 October, vs. Bangladesh

Delhi, 11 October, vs. India

Delhi, India, October 15, vs. England

vs. New Zealand, Chennai, 18 October

Pakistan vs., Chennai, October 23,

Sri Lanka vs., Pune (30 October)

vs. Netherlands, Lucknow, 3 November

7 November, Mumbai (Wankhede), vs. Australia

vs. South Africa, Ahmedabad, 10 November

Crucial Game against Pakistan on October 23

Even though Pakistan has defeated Afghanistan in each of their previous seven ODI matches, there is always more excitement when these two teams square off. Afghanistan has a history of upping their game when playing Pakistan. Every time they faced off against their nearby rivals, they played some brilliant cricket.

The two teams have participated in several heart-pounding matches across different formats, including their most recent World Cup match, which Pakistan won by three wickets.

Afghanistan will be pleased with themselves for defeating the same opponents in a T20I series in March 2023. The top order of Afghanistan has demonstrated its ability to withstand Pakistani attacks, while their spinners can take charge of the middle overs.

Players from Pakistan have an advantage over Afghan players due to their overall experience. On the other hand, if the latter maintain their fundamentals, the contest on October 23 should be absolutely thrilling.

Important Player Ibrahim Zadran

The inability of Afghanistan’s batters to compete with the caliber of their elite spinners has long been considered the nation’s biggest weakness. They have recently made improvements in the department, and Ibrahim Zadran, a young gun, is one of those driving the charge.

The 21-year-old is approaching 1000 runs in the format and has four ODI hundreds to his credit. His consistency at bat is a big plus. Along with Rahmanullah Gurbaz, he has produced several solid stands and leads all Afghan batters in average with the willow at 53.58.

Gurbaz-Zadran can lay down a solid foundation at the top, which Afghanistan’s power hitters later in the lineup can take advantage of. Zadran’s steady leadership style has the potential to change Afghanistan’s World Cup campaign.

Summary

It is difficult to ignore Afghanistan’s participation in the tournament despite their dismal record entering the World Cup. Any team in the World Cup could end up losing because of the exceptional talent they possess.

Over the past few months, their batting has gotten better. They have consistently posted competitive totals and have proven capable of competing against stronger teams. After scoring 300/5 at Hambantota in August, they came close to defeating Pakistan and nearly knocking Sri Lanka out of the Asia Cup in Lahore.

They have defeated Ireland, the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh in ODI series since the pandemic. They also shared a series of ODIs with Sri Lanka.

Fazalhaz Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq have demonstrated that they are quick learners despite the pace attack still being in its infancy. They can be a useful ally for the Afghan tweakers.

Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammed Nabi, and Noor Ahmad are Afghanistan’s spinners, and they are the team’s strongest asset in the World Cup. This quartet can make the difference in the conditions in India because they have taken more than 400 ODI wickets between them. Each player brings their own distinctive style, and they have all outwitted some of the best batters in the world.

The batting prowess of Rashid and Nabi is also a benefit to the team.

Afghanistan appears to be at their best in 2023 among all of their World Cup appearances so far. The Asian team may not have the most famous players, but if they find the right combinations and start playing well together early in the tournament, they can pull off a few upsets in the coming weeks.