Asia Cup Preview: Afghanistan
Asia Cup Preview: Afghanistan

Afghanistan's rise in the world of cricket is a fairy tale story. The team from the war-torn country is now a force to be reckoned with and are one of the two sides who are newly promoted to the Test level in the recent past.

In the upcoming Asia Cup, Afghanistan are placed alongside Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Group B, which means they have an equal chance of making it through to the next round as both other teams are going through different kind of transitional phase.

The team will be full on confidence after registering a morale-boosting 2-1 series win against Ireland in their home ground, which was their last 50-over assignment.

In this year so far, Afghanistan have managed to win 10 out of 15 matches they have played in the ODI format, the most notable of which came against West Indies in the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2019 Qualifiers. Afghanistan's highest in the meantime was 333, whereas the team's lowest total was 179.

The team will play their first match against Sri Lanka on September 17 in Abu Dhabi, whereas they will play their second match against Bangladesh on September 20 at the same venue.

Batting

In the batting department, the team will be banking on the experience duo of wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad and captain Asghar Afghan to do bulk of the scoring.

Shahzad is being influential for Afghanistan at the top of the order after having scored 2,240 runs in 71 innings at an average of 32.94 with the help of four centuries and 12 half-centuries, two of which came in the last five innings.

Asghar has had a positive impact as the captain of the side and will be hoping to deliver for the team in the batting department as well. However, in the last five innings, Asghar's highest score was 39 not out, which came in the match against Ireland in Harare.

Along with the experienced duo, Afghanistan will be banking on youngster Rahmat Shah, who is in red-hot form with the bat in the last year or so.

The 25-year-old has the best average of 37.88 by any Afghan batsman in ODIs who has scored more than 1,000 runs for the team, which is why he is highly-rated by the team management. However, in the last five innings, Shah has only managed to register one score of 50 or more for the side.

Bowling

Afghanistan's bowling – as many claim – is their strong part and so it proved to be on more than one occasion. The bowling attack, which is prominently dominated by leg-spinner has done wonders for the team in the recent past.

Young leg-spinner Rashid Khan has proved himself as the real star for the team in the format and is now the number-two ranked bowler in ODIs with 763 points. The 19-year-old has so far managed to claim 108 wickets in 47 ODIs at an astonishing average of 14.22 and strike-rate of 3.92.
He is well-supported by the 17-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who had an amazing beginning to his career with 37 wickets in just 18 matches.

Veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi is also an integral part of the squad as he brings a lot of stability, both in the batting and bowling department.

Having played in different T20 leagues all over the world, Nabi is by far the most versatile player in the Afghanistan's line up.

Players to watch:
Rashid Khan
Rahmat Shah
Mohammad Nabi

Best picks:
Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Azeem Siddiqui
Azeem Siddiqui writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire
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