Afghanistan is relatively a newbie in the game of cricket. The side has certainly produced a herculean effort to come this far. Afghanistan was granted full-membership status last year by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Afghanistan team made rapid strides since making their first appearance in 2015 Cricket World Cup played in Australia and New Zealand. Not much is expected of them in this year’s World Cup but they have a lot of word class players in their squad.
The likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi have played in different T20 Leagues around the world. R. Khan and M. Nabi did a great job for Sunrisers Hyderabad in this year’s Indian Premier League.
The main issue for Afghanistan will be getting decent scores on the board in this World Cup.
Their bowling unit is their biggest strength as the likes of Mujeeb ur Rahman, Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi can create a lot of problems for opposition teams on low and slow pitches. So they do have a lot of players who have experience of playing in English conditions and will be keen to make an impression in this World Cup.
In the Asia Cup played last year, Afghanistan performed exceedingly well to beat Sri Lanka in the competition. They also had some close games against Bangladesh and Pakistan. The side secured a tie against India in the last round-robin game of the tournament. The only area that they need to improve will to maintain their nerves in crunch situations.
In the batting department, wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad is a player who likes to go after the bowlers in the initial Power play overs of the innings. He will need to produce consistent scores at the top of the innings if Afghanistan wants to compete against top-ranked sides in this competition.
Besides Shahzad, Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, and Hashmatullah Shahidi are experienced players that can contribute with decent scores for Afghanistan. Since the 2015 World Cup, middle-order batsman Rahmat Shah has topped the batting charts for the side with 1902 runs in 53 matches at an average of 38.81. He has smashed four centuries and fourteen half-centuries during this four-year period.
Najibullah Zadran is another promising talent in the batting lineup who has done very well for the side in the last six months. Since Jan 2018, Zadran has scored 566 runs in 22 matches at a splendid average of 51.45 with a strike rate of 101.43.
In the bowling department, the side lacks a quality fast bowler who can provide wickets with the new-ball. Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hasan and Aftab Alam are pace options for the side for the showpiece event.
On a sluggish pitch, Afghanistan is more than capable of beating teams like Sri Lanka, West Indies and Bangladesh.
Captain - Gulbadin Naib
Batsmen- Noor Ali Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Hazratullah Zazai, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Shahzad
Wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad has been a bankable batter for the side at the top of the innings in one-day cricket. He will need to deliver consistency with the bat in order for Afghanistan to do well in this competition. In recent months, he has produced impressive performances for the side in limited-overs cricket and will be keen to maintain good form in this showpiece event.
All-rounders- Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shinwari
Mohammad Nabi has been a consistent performer for the side with bat and ball. He will be looking to deliver scintillating performances for the side in this World Cup.
Bowlers- Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hasan, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been a premier bowler for Afghanistan in limited-overs cricket. Since May 2015, Rashid Khan has taken 125 wickets in 59 matches at an average of 15.33. He was the leading wicket-taker in 2018 with 48 wickets to his name. Despite the fact he had a tough time with the ball in this year’s Indian Premier League, he will be determined to find form for the side in this year’s World Cup. The 20-year old has experience of playing in English conditions and will be keen to improve his numbers in the showpiece event. He has a lot of variations in his armory and does tend to bowl in the middle phase of the innings.
Afghanistan made their first appearance in 2015 Cricket World Cup played in Australia and New Zealand. The side managed to win only one game out of six played in the group stages of the competition.
Afghanistan team will be looking to improve their performance and get more victories under their belt in this Cricket World Cup. Newly-appointed captain Gulbadin Naib will make sure that the side will play at their best in this year’s World Cup. It is certainly a tremendous achievement for a war-ravaged country like Afghanistan to come this far in the game of cricket.
Afghanistan is scheduled to play their opening game against World Champions Australia at The County Ground in Bristol on 1st June. The side is scheduled to play a couple of day/night games in this World Cup.
At Betrally, Pakistan is placed sixth to 'Win 2019 Cricket World Cup' and outright odds are 15.00*. England is placed firm favorites to win the World Cup at home with odds at 3.00*.
For Pakistan, Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq are placed in the Top 20 batsmen that might score most runs in the competition. The outright odds in the Top Batsman for Babar Azam are 26.00*.
Pakistan has not been placed as one of the favorites for this year’s World Cup due to their vulnerable batting lineup, but cricket pundits certainly believe that they can go the distance in this year's competition.
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