Afghanistan's preparations for this year's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup will go up a gear when they travel to Sri Lanka next month for a three-match ODI series against the island nation.
Experienced left-hander Hashmatullah Shahidi will once again lead Afghanistan during the tour, with selectors naming a strong 15-player squad and four reserves on Monday for the three-match series that commences in Hambantota on June 2.
Young all-rounder Abdul Rahman wins a recall on the back of some strong performances in Afghanistan's domestic One Day Cup competition, while Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia Ur Rahman Akbar and Gulbadin Naib are named among the reserves.
Afghanistan have already qualified for this year's World Cup courtesy of their seventh-placed finish in the recently-completed ICC Men's Cricket World Cup Super League and will be confident of a strong showing against Sri Lanka and in the 50-over showcase scheduled for the end of the year.
Hashmatullah's side currently have three bowlers ranked inside the top 10 on the MRF Tyres ODI Bowler Rankings, with Rashid Khan (sixth), Mujib ur Rahman (eighth) and Mohammad Nabi (10th) forming an imposing attack alongside emerging quick Fazalhaq Farooqi and young spinner Noor Ahmad.
Afghanistan Cricket Board chair Mirwais Ashraf believes his squad is shaping well ahead of this year's World Cup and expects a strong performance during the Sri Lanka tour.
"It's good to have a couple of young faces for the series; the build-up for the ICC Cricket World Cup has already begun, and we are looking for every possible opportunity to build a good combination of the team and prepare them well for the event," Ashraf said.
Afghanistan Squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmat Shah (vc), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.
Reserves: Gulbadin Naib, Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia ur Rahman Akbar
First ODI: June 2, Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota
Second ODI: June 4, Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota
Third ODI: June 7, Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota