Afghanistan- Still considered ‘Underdogs’?

Passion, Persistence and Dedication can make you do wonders. That’s what this new and emerging Afghanistan Cricket team has showed over the years to stand where they are standing right now. Knocking on the doors of some of the best sides in world cricket, Afghanistan is gaining stature and stability as they grow as a team.

They saw this dream long back in 1990s when the Afghan refugees used to play cricket residing in Pakistan which led to formation of Afghanistan Cricket Board in 1995. Earlier banned then released as an exception by Taliban in 2000, the game soon became the most popular sport being played in the country. Riding on the gaining popularity and interest amongst Afghans, Afghanistan Cricket Federation was elected as an affiliate member of the ICC a year later. Now, having the license to take on the world Afghanistan soon came to the party by defeating fellow affiliate team sin T20Is and subsequently in ODIs few years later.

The core of the team comprises of the then captain Nawroz Mangal, Mohammed Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammed Shehzad to name a few of them who made their country proud when they defeated Canada in their 2nd T20I match ever.  

Augmentation kept on happening as the mystery spinner, Rashid Khan joined the Afghan ODI team team in 2015 and brought a revolution to their cricket. The talent and ability that he brings to the table is phenomenal as well as exceptional in itself. Fastest to 100 ODI wickets by a margin this leggie is having a quirky style of bowling. Quicker through the air clocking 90-95 kmph, unlike typical wrist spinners he creates arduous circumstances for even the best batsmen in the world of cricket.

 

Before Rashid Khan (In ODIs)

Mat Won Lost W/L Bowling Ave RPO
51 25 26 0.961 29.27 4.75

 

After Rashid Khan (In ODIs)

Mat Won Lost W/L Ave RPO
55 30 22 1.363 23.43 4.53

 

He is one of the biggest contributors to the rise of Afghanistan as a cricketing playing nation as numbers suggest that there is around 42% increase in the W/L ratio along with approximately 20% reduction in number of runs scored against them per wicket after the inclusion of Rashid Khan in the ODI team. This apparently shows how Rashid Khan- ‘Spin wizard’ can create a magic to bring glory to his team.

Selection of players like Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Rashid Khan himself from IPL 2017 was not at all a surprise considering their performances in the international cricket. This trio was one of the best and economical bowling trio of IPL 2018 and were always seen learning and improving their game to play against some of the cricket greats.

Star Performer: ‘The Afghan Helicopter’

When it comes to their batters, a clear transformation can be seen from last 3 years where they have been on a pedestal scoring at more than 8 RPO consistently to make an almost 15% rise in their totals and 20% in their number of wins from before. Led by their unorthodox yet effective WK-batsman Mohammed Shahzad, Afghanistan national team is ranked higher than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in T20I rankings. Being one of the better power hitters, Shahzad scoring @ 138 with a consistency of 34.8 runs every match has kept one end steady even in the shortest format of the game. His recent century against the power packed Team India raised many eyebrows in the world of cricket.

Do you think the recent Tie against the Men in Blue in Asia Cup 2018 will be the turning point for this newly rising cricketing nation?

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Written By: Jatin Shekhar

 

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