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Afghanistan (1)
T20 World Cup

With quality aplenty, Afghanistan dare to dream

Team preview

Afghanistan have enjoyed an astounding rise up the international cricket pecking order, taking huge strides at a rapid pace. Having familiarity with the conditions in the UAE where they have played the majority of their cricket, will the Asian side make a deep run in the tournament, springing a major surprise or two along the way?

Ever since their tournament debut at the 2010 ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean, it has been a story of constantly striving for improvement. While some of the faces of old still remain becoming a cornerstone of Afghan cricket, new stars have emerged, forging the side into a steely unit, capable of competing with the best that international cricket has to offer. The 2021 edition in UAE and Oman will be another parameter where Afghanistan will gauge their current standing in the global game while charting their progress in international cricket. 

Ahead of their opening fixture on 26 October, we take a deep look into their squad for the tournament. 

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Producing their best in the shortest format has always been Afghanistan's forte. It is the format in which they have revelled the most and can boast of having some of the most dangerous T20 players in their artillery. Ever since gaining ICC's Affiliate status in 2001, Afghanistan cricket has come by leaps and bounds and are a genuine force to be reckoned with in T20 cricket. They have a formidable record in T20 cricket, having played 84 matches and having won 58 of them, with a 69.64 win percentage. 

With the 2016 edition of the tournament being their best one so far, 2021 will present them with another opportunity to make further inroads in international cricket on the global stage. 

With the conditions in UAE expected to be conducive for the spinners, Afghanistan have the perfect attack to exploit them to the maximum. Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will form a fearsome spin trio, with two of them being able to make handy contributions with the bat as well.   

Hazaratullah Zazai, Najibullah Zadran and the returning Mohammad Shahzad will also provide some explosiveness in the batting order. The presence of the veteran Asghar Afghan will also be a calming influence in the dressing room. 

The stage is perfectly set up for Afghanistan to make a big dash in the UAE. 

The Squad

Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Karim Janat, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen ul Haq, Hamid Hassan, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Qais Ahmed

Reserves: Afsar Zazai, Farid Ahmed Malik

Video cwc19 28 Sep 21
Rashid Khan predicts future stars

Their Fixtures

26 Oct – v B1

30 Oct – v Pakistan

31 Oct – v A2

4 Nov – v India

7 Nov – v New Zealand

Tournament history

Best finish: Super 10s (2016)

Having made their tournament debut in 2010, it has been a story of constant progress for the Afghans. It was at the 2016 World Cup held in India, where they showcased that they should be a force to be reckoned with against any side. They won all their matches in the First Round to qualify for the next stage. Despite finishing at the bottom of Group 1, they still managed to seal a victory against eventual champions West Indies, inflicting upon them their only loss of the tournament. 

Look out for

Shapoor Zadran

The tall left-arm seamer burst onto the scene during the 2010 T20 World Cup in West Indies, impressing one and all with the pace and bounce which he generated. His international career though has faced many ups and downs, but at 34, he is very much a veteran presence in the dressing room. 

Back in the squad for the 2021 edition of the tournament in the UAE, Shapoor will be expected to add an edge and penetration the pace attack. Having played 36 T20Is, he has scalped 37 wickets at an average of 24.51. Will the tournament witness his resurgence as an international cricketer?

Key player

Rashid Khan

One of the premier spinners in international cricket, Rashid Khan will be the key weapon in Afghanistan's armoury. Apart from his genius with the ball, Rashid will also have a vital role to play with the bat with his lower-order cameos and will also be expected to contribute in the field. As a senior member of the squad, the spinner will also play a leadership role.

The leggie has an exceptional record in international T20 cricket, having picked up 95 wickets in only 51 matches at an average of 12.63. He will undoubtedly view the World Cup as an opportunity to further cement his legacy as one of the greatest-ever players in the shortest format of the game. 

Video cwc19 12 Oct 21
Rashid Khan's top five T20 players

Big match

Pakistan - The first major test for Afghanistan will be against their neighbours Pakistan on October 30 in Dubai. The two teams have only faced off once in a T20I contest — all the way back in 2013, where Pakistan came out on top. But Afghanistan will prove to be a much tougher proposition for them this time around and will be aiming to level the head-to-head record between the two sides.

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