Afghanistan will compete with India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and qualifier teams as they all have been placed in Group 2 for the T20 World Cup later this year inside the UAE, as introduced by the ICC on Friday. Group 1 consists of England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies and two more qualifier groups.
Afghanistan may be considered the dark horse for the event, in the format which they favor the maximum of the 3. While expecting them to win the identity or even reach the very last might be farfetched, they could put up a couple of surprises and may attain the semi-final.
Not to neglect, inside the 2016 T20 World Cup Afghanistan defeated the eventual champions of West Indies within the group level.
3 Reasons Why Afghanistan Can Prove To Be The Dark Horse Of The Tournament:
The team is in the form
Going into the T20 World Cup, Afghanistan will have a solid run of form on its back. In fact, the team hasn’t lost a T20I series since July 2017. They have defeated the likes of Zimbabwe, Ireland, Bangladesh, West Indies in the past few years, and have lost just 1 of their last 12 T20I series.
Despite the issues within the board and some players, which saw Rashid Khan now being named the T20 captain, the team has performed brilliantly on the field, especially in the shortest version of the game.
Players like Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Karim Janat offer fire-power at the top, with a solid middle-order in the hands of Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan control the finishing and spin-bowling duties while the Afghanistan Premier League have thrown up some decent pacers.
The venue: UAE
Afghanistan would be one of the happier teams with the T20 World Cup being shifted to the UAE – although they wouldn’t have minded much with the original venue for the tournament being India as well.
Their players have loads of experience of playing in the UAE conditions – both individually and collectively – and also have spinners to exploit the assistance offered by the pitches.
Apart from Rashid Khan himself, they have the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the fifth-ranked ICC T20I bowler, and Mohammad Nabi, the top-ranked ICC T20I all-rounder, to make hay in UAE, in the powerplay and after that as well making life difficult for the batters.
The Rashid Khan factor
Having plied his trade around the world in different leagues and topping their bowling charts, Rashid Khan has become arguably the best T20 bowler in the world. He has also been now named the captain – for the second time in his career – to lead Afghanistan into the T20 World Cup.
In 3 T20Is this year so far he has picked 6 wickets at an economy of 7.60. He was terrific in the recently concluded PSL snapping 11 wickets in 8 games, including a five-for, at a parsimonious economy of 5.46.
His 4 overs are often straight in the bank for any side he turns up for as the batters just find it hard to read his variations, the googlies or the leg-spinners, and then absolutely challenging to hit those considering the fast pace he bowls at. If Afghanistan is to make a big noise in the T20 World Cup this year, their new skipper, their cricket world ambassador, will be at the forefront of it.