Before I write anything about Afghanistan’s cricket challenge at the world cup, let me first congratulate all those brave hearts out there, constituting their cricket team. In spite of the unstable environment back home, they have concentrated on cricket. They have grown the Afghanistan bit by bit, and their entry in the world cup 2019 as a full state member is worth much more than just a few appreciations.
As far as Afghanistan’s batting is concerned, there are two outstanding players – Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi. Rest of the batting line up will need a bit of upsurge in temperament to bring best out of themselves against big teams.
Rahmat Shah possesses the ability to play a ship anchor role and go long. Nabi has the same virtues and is far more reliable than any other batsmen in the lineup. On a given day, Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai can play brisk knocks at the top, but they will have to contain themselves in testing conditions. Hasmatullah Shahidi played a composed inning during the warmup against Pakistan. He will take a lot of confidence out of the knock. If he plays such knocks consistently, Afghanistan will be able to put up big scores with ease. Towards the end of the innings, it is up to Nabhi and Rashid Khan to provide quick runs.
Afghanistan’s bowling has shown a lot of improvement – especially in the spin department. The arrival of Rashid Khan and Mujib is a blessing. Both of them have the ability to break partnerships. Rashid Khan will use his experience of playing T20 leagues across the world, to conquer master batsmen. However, a place for both in the same game is subject to the conditions, especially in England. Dawlat Zadran has shown consistency over the past few years, but his wicket-taking ability needs an improvement. He along with Hameed Hasan needs to provide good start from the bowling standpoint.
Fielding is one area that demands improvement. There are few players showing athleticism in the field. But, for a few others, it’s a hard job. The team needs better fitness to concentrate for longer periods of time in the field.
Surprise Change of Guard
Days before Afghanistan was to depart for the world cup, their cricket board decided to change the captain. They hand over the captaincy baton to Gulbadin Naib. A change of captain is never advisable before a tournament like a world cup. On a positive side, it is an acknowledgment of the ineffectiveness of Asghar Afghan’s leadership by the board. However, the bold step should have been taken six months ago. The change at the last moment does not leave time for players to adjust to the new leadership style.
All or Nothing
Afghanistan’s playing style over the year has been all or nothing. Either they put up an excellent show, or a very bad one. That’s where I’ve derived the title of this blog, and I don’t think it’ll be too different in the world cup 2019. With their par excellence show, they may knock over a couple of big teams over the course of the world cup, like they did to Pakistan in warm up.