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Asghar Stanikzai
Cricket World Cup

Asghar Stanikzai returns to bolster Afghanistan

Afghanistan news

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Afghanistan’s regular captain replaces Afsar Zazai, the top-order batsman, who has suffered a hamstring injury.

Asghar Stanikzai, the regular captain of the Afghanistan team, has been approved by the Event Technical Committee of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 as a replacement for Afsar Zazai, the top-order batsman and occasional wicket-keeper, who has suffered a hamstring injury.

Stanikzai, one of Afghanistan’s most experienced players, underwent surgery for appendicitis in late February and was ruled out of action for around 10 days, subsequently missing Afghanistan’s first five games in the qualifiers.

Stanikzai, 30, made his debut for Afghanistan in 2009, and has played 83 one-day internationals and 51 Twenty20 Internationals with moderate results – his average is 21.14 in ODIs  and 21.59 in T20Is – and had been in poor form in the lead up to the qualifiers. In the ODI series in Sharjah against Zimbabwe in February, he batted thrice, scoring 3, 1 and 2.

Afghanistan have had a rocky run in the qualifiers and must win their two remaining games to stay in the race
Afghanistan have had a rocky run in the qualifiers and must win their two remaining games to stay in the race

In his absence, Rashid Khan was appointed captain of Afghanistan and the team stuttered through the group stage, winning one game and losing three, and barely scraping through to the Super Sixes.

Since then, they have beaten Windies but have a tough road ahead with games against United Arab Emirates and Ireland, both of which they must win to stay in the race for a spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Zazai played just one game in the qualifiers, the fixture against Nepal, where he didn’t get a chance to bat. He did his hamstring during a training session on Sunday. Interestingly, Zazai had come into the squad as Stanikzai's replacement, having not been named in the initial touring party.

Afghanistan next play UAE at Old Hararians Sports Club on Tuesday and then take on Ireland at Harare Sports Club on Friday.

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