After having started the Asia Cup 2022 with two impressive wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to top their pool, Afghanistan will be disappointed how their side has tracked since then.
Three losses from three games in the Super Four phase of the tournament saw Afghanistan crash out, suffering a tough 101 run defeat to India in their most recent match.
As a result of these sub-par performances, Afghanistan has announced a T20 World Cup 2022 squad rife with changes. While Mohammad Nabi continues to captain the side, Afsar Zazai, Karim Janat, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Noor Ahmad and Samiullah Shinwari have all missed out on re-selection. In their absence, three players have been called up to the 15-man squad, with spinner Qaid Ahmed, pace bowler Salim Safi and batsman Darwish Rooli the beneficiaries.
Here is our breakdown of the 15-man Afghanistan 2022 T20 World Cup squad, with selections broken down and analysed for each player.
With four Afghani batsmen retaining their places from the recent Asia Cup, and one being recalled, the side has a steady crop of batters who are looking to improve.
Afghanistan has named five specialist batsmen in the T20 World Cup for October, as follows:
Darwish Rasooli is the new addition to the side, having played his last T20I in June 2022 against Zimbabwe. A finger injury saw Rasooli slip out of the team, however his successful recovery and recent Shpageeza Cricket League form has seen a recall extended to the 22-year-old. The aggressive middle order batter will be looking to find success at this level of the game, with his four previous T20I only producing a high score of 12.
Najibullah Zadran is the most experienced of Afghanistan’s specialist batsmen, with 1559 runs across 83 T20Is. Averaging 32.48 at a strike rate of 142.9 across his career, Zadran disappointed for Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, only accruing 72 runs from his five matches. At the top of the order, it is fiery Hazratullah Zazai who brings both experience and power. Sitting just short of 1000 international runs in T20s, Zazai is most known for his innings against Ireland in 2019, where he crushed 162 off 62 balls in a T20I. Another performance like this would certainly not go amiss at the 2022 T20 World Cup.
Usman Ghani and Ibrahim Zadran are the least experienced of Afghanistan’s batters, with less than 30 T20Is each. However, Zadran was the only batsman to stand up against India recently, carrying his bat for 64 off 59 in his side’s 101 run loss. The 20-year-old top scored for Afghanistan in the tournament, striking 196 runs from five matches. Of concern will be his strike rate, however—only 104.26. Ghani on the other hand, did not get any game time in the Asia Cup, and with an average of 27.12 in T20Is, appears to be favoured as a back up option in the squad.
|Player||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||Highest Score|
The evolution of modern cricket has seen some sides name as many as five different all-rounders in their squads for this year’s T20 World Cup.
Afghanistan, however, only have the one all-round option to draw on from their squad travelling to Australia:
It happens to be a good one, however. Not only is Mohammad Nabi one of the top ranked all-rounders in all of T20 cricket, but he also leads this Afghani team.
With almost 3000 ODI runs, 1647 T20I runs, and well over 200 white-ball wickets, Mohammad Nabi is one of the best players to ever put on the Afghan jersey. Debuting at the T20I level in 2010, Nabi has played exactly 100 international matches in this format. The 37-year-old brings a wealth of experience, being one of the few Afghani players to gain significant overseas exposure as well, through the IPL and other T20 leagues. His bowling economy rate in T20Is is excellent, giving up 7.31 runs per over for his 83 wickets. The man can also hit a long ball, with 89 international sixes to his name and a career strike rate of 140.05.
What Afghanistan lack in quantity, they make up for in quality through Mohammad Nabi.
|Player||Matches||Runs||Batting Average||Strike Rate||Wickets||Economy|
|Mohammad Nabi (captain)||101||1669||21.67||140.37||83||7.30|
Another area where Afghanistan are travelling light is the wicketkeeping options
Just the one wicketkeeper is being brought to Australia for the T20 World Cup this year:
Joining Hazratullah Zazai at the top of the order, Rahmanullah Gurbaz makes up a crucial cog in the machine of Afghanistan’s squad. The 20-year-old was his country’s second highest scorer across their Asia Cup matches, with 152 runs from five matches at a strike rate of 163.44. When both Gurbaz and Zazai get going, Afghanistan are a force to be reckoned with.
Debuting at the age of 18 against Zimbabwe, Gurbaz has already matured into a 32-match veteran despite only being 20 years old. His 828 T20I runs give him plenty of time in the middle to draw on, but playing on the big stage in Australia will be a different challenge for the youngster.
|Player||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike Rate||Highest Score|
Afghanistan’s lack of all-rounders and decision to take only one wicketkeeper has meant they travel with an impressive eight specialist bowling options.
The eight specialist bowlers Afghanistan have selected for the 2022 T20 World Cup are as follows:
Five pace bowlers and three spinners have been selected, to go with Mohammad Nabi’s right arm off break.
Of the fast bowlers, all but Fareed Ahmad Malik are 22 years old or younger, with none having more than 21 matches at this level. The relatively untested pace attack of Afghanistan will be hard pressed to make the switch from domestic conditions to the pitches of Australia, and it will take some character from these young men to not be put to the sword by more experienced batting line ups.
However, there are some bright spots, despite the youth of this attack. Naveen-ul-Haq and Fareed Ahmad Malik have both taken just short of 30 international wickets, while Fazalhaq Farooqi has an impressive economy rate of 6.82 runs per over across his first 14 T20Is. Mohammad Saleem Safi, on the other hand, is making his debut in T20Is at age 20 after impressing on the domestic circuit.
Where Afghanistan really bring bowling prowess and experience is in the spin department. With 118 wickets at an economy of 6.25 across 71 T20Is, Rashid Khan is one of the world’s premier spinners, if not the pick of the lot. His incredible 92 IPL appearances by the age of 23 have delivered a further 112 wickets at 6.38, while the leggie’s ODI record is even more impressive, with 158 wickets from 83 matches at an economy of 4.17. His best white-ball figures of 7/18 speak to the danger of Khan—he can take the game away from any team, in a matter of balls.
Supporting Khan are Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Qais Ahmad. Ahmad debuted earlier this year against the Netherlands and gets a recall to the squad as spin cover, while Rahman is an excellent spinner in his own right, with 45 wickets from 33 T20Is.
Afghanistan’s 15-man squad for the 2022 T20 World Cup this October: Najibullah Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Usman Ghani, Darwish Rasooli, Ibrahim Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Azmatullah Omarzai, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Rashid Khan, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Qais Ahmad and Mohammad Saleem Safi.
|Fareed Ahmad Malik||20||29||3/14||19.75||8.61|
|Mujeeb Ur Rahman||1||1||1/75||75.00||5.00|
|Mohammad Saleem Safi||-||-||-||-||-|