ODI World Cup: Afghanistan Team’s SWOT Analysis, Key Players & Fixtures
Afghanistan will begin their World Cup campaign on October 7 against Bangladesh in Dharamsala before facing hosts India.
World Cup 2023: Not one of the favorites to win the WC, Afghanistan will be heading to India and try to stun their opposition with a mixture of spin and some aggressive template of batting. The conditions in India will also greatly help the Afghani side who do not have a very record in the 50-over World Cup. However in the recent past year, Afghanistan have done quite well and have earned a direct entry to the showpiece event starting from October 5 onwards.
Afghanistan finished last in 2019 WC
Afghanistan made their ODI WC debut in 2015 and also featured in the following edition in 2019. However, they have lost 14 of their 15 WC games with their solitary win coming over Scotland in 2015. They lost all of their nine matches in the 2019 edition, finishing last in the league stage. It goes without saying that Hashmatullah Shahidi and Co. will want to put on a better show this time around.
The Afghani side also failed to put an impression in the recently concluded Asia Cup as they were knocked out of the competition from the group stages. However, they defeat Bangladesh in an ODI series in July this year as the home side lost the first two matches of the 3-match series.
Afghanistan schedule for World Cup:
Shahidi and Co. will play their opening match of the event on October 7 against Bangladesh in Dharamsala before taking on hosts India in Delhi on October 11. After taking on India, Afghanistan face defending champions England at the same venue on October 15 and then travel to Chennai to take on New Zealand (October 18) and Pakistan (October 23). They will next Sri Lanka on October 30 in Pune, followed by matches against the Netherlands (November 3 in Lucknow), Australia (November 7 in Mumbai) and South Africa (November 10 in Ahmedabad).
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Spinners are key to the success of Afghanistan in the upcoming event. The Asian side has three quality spinners in the ranks of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi. The spin trio has been impressive for their team over the years. While Mujeeb takes the responsibility with the new ball, Afghanistan tend to introduce Nabi is middle-phase of the innings to stem the flow of runs and Rashid is mainly kept for the death overs. However, all three of them have the ability to turn the match with their magic spin bowling which will be more deadly on the slow turning tracks of Lucknow, Chennai and even Delhi where they are slated to play their matches.
Despite having a decent batting department, Afghanistan has been consistent with the bat and tend to lose the control of the match in crunch situations. One of the example was seen recently when Rashid Khan was left stranded to the other end as his side got knocked out of the Asia Cup while facing Sri Lanka. The likes of Gurbaz, Zadran, and Shahidi will have to take responsibility at the top of the order as they have some fire power with the bat including Najibullah, Nabi and Rashid.
Pacer Naveen-ul-Haq was added to the Afghan side for the World Cup and the right-arm pacer will be itching to do well in India. After receiving so much flak from the Indian fans due to his tussle with Virat Kohli, Naveen will be looking to silence some his critics with his bowling. On the other hand, the squad also includes all-rounder, Azmatullah Omarzai, a noticeable absentee from the Asia Cup squad. Omarzai is also handy hitter lower-down the order and can prove to be quite handy with the ball as well.
With teams facing all the other participants in the WC, anything won’t come easy for the Afghani side. The Asian side has also been associated with injuries in the recent past and one of the main challenges for them will be to keep all their key players fit and make rotations according to the conditions.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan will be a key weapon for Afghanistan in the World Cup. Noor Ahmad who also did a decent job during his last IPL stint might be the dark horse Afghanistan are searching for the tournament. On the other hand, Mujeeb and Nabi are also expected to play a crucial role with the ball. With the bat, the onus will be on Gurbaz who has been the aggressor with the bat in the field restrictions. Rahmat Shah who has been a regular member in the 50-over squad will need to his experience and try to play the anchor role in the middle-order.
Afghanistan Squad for World Cup 2023: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq