The tenth-ranked team in ODI championship and the winner of the World Cup qualifiers, Afghanistan are one of the few dark horses that can cause an upset in the 2019 World Cup. Although not much is expected from the team, one can definitely not rule them out as we have seen in previous World tournaments.
In the 2016 T20 World Cup, they were the only team to defeat the eventual champions West Indies. Further, in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, they defeated the tournament favorites, West Indies, twice to go on and become the champions of the qualifying tournament.
Again, in the 2018 Asia Cup, they defeated heavyweights Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the group stages and almost managed to win against Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Super Four stage. Further, they were the only team to have not lost against eventual champions India after they tied a crunch encounter with the Men in Blue.
Keeping all of this in mind, one can never keep Afghanistan, the rising stars, out of contention to cause an upset in the World Cup. Let’s dwell upon the players who can create an impact for the side:
Rashid Khan has not only been successful in picking up wickets, but he has also been successful in restricting runs. And this quality of his aids Afghanistan as Rashid Khan is not only a genuine wicket-taking bowler but also an economical bowler who will keep a check on opposition’s run flow. He has the ability to pick up wickets at regular intervals which helps his team claw back in a match.
With 125 wickets in 56 innings, Rashid Khan is one of the best bowlers presently plying the trade in International cricket. With a mind-boggling economy rate of 3.90, Rashid not only restricts runs but also takes wicket almost every 24 balls. He further averages 15.33 in 50-overs cricket with his best bowling figures of 7/18 that came against West Indies way back in 2017.
One of the unsung heroes of Afghani Cricket, Asghar Afghan is the pillar of Afghanistan’s batting line-up. He generally anchors the Afghan innings that helps the team post competitive totals but can also play free-flowing attacking shots if the situation arises. Although not very popular in the international circuit as other Afghan players such as Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan or Mujeeb Ur Rahman, yet Afghan is a very popular figure in the Afghanistan dressing room.
Until recently he was the skipper in all three formats of the game, however, just before the start of the World Cup, he was relieved of his duties which was opposed by a lot of senior players. Thus, he would look to perform well for Afghanistan in this World Cup and prove his worth to the board members.
With an average of 23.88 in 96 innings, Asghar has scored 2078 runs at an S/R of 64.75. He further has 11 fifties and 1 century to his name, with his highest knock of 101 coming against Ireland in 2017 at Greater Noida.
The year 2019 might be a big year for Afghanistan Cricket and if they continue to dominate and grow as they have been doing in the recent past, then they will surely go on to make an impact in this World Cup. Whether or not they are able to do that seem to depend on their stars and especially these two players.