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World Cup 2023: The Afghan squad aiming to cause some upsets

ICC Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan World Cup squad complete analysis. Strengths & weakness of Afghanistan side in World Cup 2023

Asia Cup 2022_ Group B, Bangladesh vs Afghanistan_ Rashid Khan takes 3-22 and helps AFG beat BAN in Group B game. _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ACB_Twitter)
Afghanistan can cause upset in WC 2023 (Images: ©ACB/Twitter)

Afghanistan will start their world cup campaign on October 07 against Bangladesh in Dharamshala. Recently, the Afghanistan Cricket Board announced their squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.

The Afghan team coming to India has a combination of experienced spinners and some aggressive batters. The playing conditions in India will also help the Afghan side to a great extent.

Afghanistan do not have a very good record in the 50-over world cup. Although in the recent past the nation has done quite well and have earned a direct entry to the big cricketing event. They qualified for this year's world cup courtesy of their seventh place in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League 2020/23.

The experienced left-handed batter, Hashmatullah Shahidi will be leading Afghanistan in the upcoming ODI world cup.

Afghanistan’s ODI World Cup history

The International Cricket Council (ICC) granted the Afghanistan cricket team an affiliate membership in 2001, six years after the Afghanistan Cricket Federation was formed. Two years later, the nation became a member of the Asian Cricket Council. They made their ODI World Cup debut in 2015. However, they lost 14 of their 15 World Cup games, with their only win coming over Scotland in 2015.

Afghanistan’s performance in the 2019 ODI World Cup

The Afghan team confirmed their place in the 2019 World cup by winning the qualifiers, defeating the West Indies in the final. They, however, lost all of their nine matches in the 2019 edition, finishing last in the league stage.

Since then this side has evolved into a bunch of passionate cricketers who now have expertise and skills to cause worries for big teams. The spin sensation, Rashid Khan has been vital in their growth and success at the international level. He has 172 wickets in 94 ODI matches with an economy of 4.22.

The Shahidi-led side also failed to impress in the recent Asia Cup 2023 - where they were knocked out of the tournament at the group stage. However, they beat Bangladesh in an ODI series in July this year. The side will want to put on a better show as a team this time around.

Afghanistan squad for the World Cup 2023

Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), 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.

Reserve Players - Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf & Farid Ahmad Malik.

Afghanistan World Cup Squad Analysis
Asia Cup 2022_ Group B, Bangladesh vs Afghanistan_ Rashid Khan takes 3-22 and helps AFG beat BAN in Group B game. _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©ICC/Twitter)
Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb forms a formidable spin trio (Source: ©ICC/Twitter)

Afghanistan Strengths

One of Afghanistan's key strengths is their spin bowling department. Spinners will most likely be the key to the success of the Afghan squad in the coming event. The side has three quality spinners - Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman & Mohammad Nabi.

The spin trio has been spectacular for their team over the years. They have consistently troubled opposition batters across various conditions and have the ability to turn the match at any stage.

Two of these spinners are currently ranked in the top 10 ODI bowler rankings, with Mujeeb at third & Rashid at fourth position forming an impressive attack, alongside emerging pacer Fazahaq Farooqi & young spinner Noor Ahmad. While Mujeeb takes the control with the new ball, Afghanistan are likely to bring in Nabi in the middle phase of the innings to control the flow of runs and Rashid will mostl likely be saved for the death overs.

This trio is very much familiar with Indian conditions as they have played several IPL editions here. Their spin can be very destructive on the slow turning tracks of Chennai, Lucknow and even Delhi, where they are scheduled to play their matches in the tournament.

Afghanistan Weakness

This team's biggest weakness has been the inability of the batters to rise up to the occasion and perform at par with their world-class spinners. Despite having a strong spin line-up, Afghanistan have suffered from the lack of experienced and consistent fast bowlers who can make the most impact with the new & old ball.

The Shahidi-led team has a decent batting department but it lacks experience & consistency. More often than not this results in the side losing control of the match in pressure situations.

Moreover their batting line-up often relies heavily on a few key batters, which could be detrimental if these players fail to deliver.

The likes of Gurbaz, Zadran & Shahidi will have to take responsibility at the top of the order, and they also have some power hitters in the lower middle order - including Najibullah, Rashid & Nabi.

The other downside for the young team is lack of experience, as they have not played much ODI in recent times. The team has played ODIs mostly against the small teams, hence they lack in game awareness.

However, if the conditions favor them and if it is their day the Afghan squad can pose a tough challenge for any established side. While they are not one of the favorites to win World Cup 2023, they definitely have the talent, ability and the might to cause a big upset in the mega event.

Probable Playing XI of Afghanistan in 2023 WC

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (Captain), Nazibullah Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi & Naveen-ul-Haq.


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