Asia Cup 2022: Breaking down the squad of Afghanistan
Afghanistan named a 17-member squad for the forthcoming Asia Cup. All-rounder Mohammad Nabi will captain the Afghans. Interestingly, 34-year-old batter Samiullah Shinwari has made the cut, having last played in 2020. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan continues to be the linchpin in their line-up. Left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad has found a calling despite featuring in only one T20I. We decode their squad.
Afghanistan's squad for Asia Cup
Afghanistan's squad: Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran (vc), Afsar Zazai (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Farid Ahmad Malik, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Naveen ul Haq, Noor Ahmad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shinwari.
Afghanistan boast a competent set of batters
Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz need to fire all cylinders. The former plays T20s as they should. Then there's the duo of Ibrahim Zadran and Hashmatullah Shahidi, who enjoyed stupendous returns in Shpageeza Cricket League. Shahidi top-scored after having amassed 411 runs at 58.71, while Ibrahim managed 318 runs at 53.00. Najibullah Zadran and Nabi are must-see players with hard-hitting abilities second to none.
Shinwari's red-hot form gets him a call-up
Shinwari, who has made 64 T20I appearances for Afghanistan, last played an international in March 2020. The middle-order batter's addition to the squad is on grounds of his performance in SCL. He managed 202 runs in eight innings, averaging a healthy 33.66 and striking at 122.42. Notably, he was the seventh-highest run-getter in the tournament. He bolsters Afghanistan's batting line-up.
Afghans have a reliable spin option
Rashid, who is arguably one of the greatest spinners in T20s, will carry the wicket-taking onus. His leg-breaks and googlies continue to trouble the batters. Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman would be hoping to negate the batters alongside Rashid. He has an economy worth 6.22 and averages a phenomenal 16.71. He feasted six scalps versus Ireland and will be hoping to extend the streak.
What about the pacers?
Left-arm quick Fazal Haq Farooqi has the variations to trouble early on. He will share the new ball responsibilities with Farid Ahmad Malik, who posed a threat to the Irishmen, garnering bounce off the wicket. Karim Janat is a terrific option in the middle-overs. The right-arm medium has snared 43 of his 74 career T20 scalps in this interval at an economy of 6.87.
A look at other talking points
Noor, who bagged a four-fer on his T20I debut, is another strong campaigner in the spin department. He has solid numbers in T20s, wherein he has 43 scalps at an economy of 7.38. There's 22-year-old Naveen ul Haq, who has had an impressionable run in the format. His yorkers and slower ones can unsettle the batters, as was visible in the Ireland T20Is.