Afghanistan, following the emergence of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Hazratullah Zazai, are confident regarding their semifinal qualification in the upcoming mega-event in England.
With the return of Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan are not short on experience. The pacer last featured for Afghanistan in 2016 due to injury concerns, which he has overcome now.
Afghanistan are currently ranked 10th in the ICC ODI rankings and have a habit of upsetting higher ranked teams; last year, they won a World Cup Qualifier against West Indies, knocked out Sri Lanka out of Asia Cup and tied with India.
Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai, the Afghanistan chief selector, said:
There was no Rashid or Mujeeb in 2015 [Afghanistan finished sixth in a seven-team pool] so this time we are aiming for a semifinal berth. With the team composition we have, we can definitely surprise a few teams.
Hamid Hassan is back into the fast bowling attack and that is a big boost. He has been a great fast bowler for Afghanistan and will lead the pace attack alongside Dawlat Zadran.
The Afghanistan management appointed Gulbadin Naib as the skipper for their World Cup campaign whereas Rahmat Shah and Rashid Khan were appointed Test and T20I captains respectively.
Despite the timing of the appointments and with Rashid and Mohammad Nabi expressing their concerns, Ahmadzai claimed that everything was “handled professional” and the differences were all sorted out.
The team members, including Rashid and Nabi, are now happy for Gulbadin. Asghar himself has said that Gulbadin is like his younger brother who believes that Asghar’s experience will come in handy in the World Cup. They are a united front now. Changes happen.
Afghanistan will play their first match of the World Cup campaign against Australia on 1st June in Bristol.