ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan Bank on Spin Quartet on Turning Wickets

Last Updated: September 29, 2023, 09:38 IST

The lack of a pace attack and inconsistent batting have let down Afghanistan. (AFP Photo)

The lack of a pace attack and inconsistent batting have let down Afghanistan. (AFP Photo)

Afghanistan have managed just two wins in 10 ODIs they have played in 2023.

Afghanistan will be looking to a spin quartet led by match-winner Rashid Khan to get results on the slow and turning wickets of India at the World Cup.

Rashid is in huge demand for Twenty20 teams around the world as he is the top-ranked bowler in that format and fifth in ODIs.

But the Afghans have great spin depth beyond Rashid, with Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Noor Ahmad also capable of turning their side to victory.

The lack of a pace attack and inconsistent batting have let down Afghanistan in 50-over cricket, with the team winning just two of their nine games this year.

They also failed to get past the first round in the recent Asia Cup, with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi lamenting a run of poor form.

“We have played good cricket in the last couple of years,” said Shahidi, whose team won a three-match series in Bangladesh in July.

“But from the last four or five games we were struggling.”

Still, the captain is confident the side can turn the corner in India.

“The Asia Cup was a good wake up call. At the same time it doesn’t mean that we are not good, we are well prepared and the result will be different in the World Cup. I believe in our team,” he added.

Despite the recent failures, the team can count on massive support at home, with the national team a rare symbol of unity in a nation embroiled by tumult over the past decades.

“Our crowd always supports us, and we are thankful to them. We will try our best to give something to them,” said Shahidi, who will be playing his second World Cup.

“People back home are expecting a lot from us, they want us to win. ”

Afghanistan’s rise in international cricket reached a high in the 2011 World Cup qualifying rounds, but losing to Canada in the Super Eight deprived them of a place in the mega event co-hosted by India and Sri Lanka.

Four years later they made their maiden appearance in Australia and New Zealand, beating fellow associate member Scotland, but losing their five other matches.

Their 2019 World Cup campaign was marred by the sacking of captain Asghar Afghan just two months before the event, and under replacement Gulbadin Naib they lost all nine matches in Britain.

This time Naib was controversially omitted despite good recent form.

Shahidi hopes Afghanistan’s first game against Bangladesh on October 7 will set the tone for the competition.

“Every game played at the World Cup is important, it gives you confidence and good morale if you go out there and win,” he said.

But Afghanistan’s real test will be against the top teams — who they have never beaten in an ODI.

The return of Naveen-ul-Haq will bolster the pace attack in tandem with Fazalhaq Farooqi and Azmatullah Omarzai.

Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, with experience in the Indian Premier League, will anchor the batting, while Ibrahim Zadran, Shahidi, Nabi and Najibullah Zadran bolster the middle order.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

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