The Afghanistan cricket team have announced their squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2022, which will be played in Australia

The Afghanistan cricket team have announced their squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2022, which will be played in Australia from October 16 to November 13. The 15-member squad will be led by veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, with hard-hitting batter Najibullah Zadran as the vice-captain. Explosive Rahmanullah keeper-batter Gurbaz is another key batter in the line-up. Among bowlers, they have Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman as their main spinners, while Fazalhaq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik, and Naveen ul Haq will be their main pacers. Interestingly, Afghanistan have picked franchise T20 specialist leggie, Qais Ahmad in their squad. Afsar Zazai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rahmat Shah, and Gulbadin Naib are their reserve players. Here’s a SWOT analysis of Afghanistan’s T20 World Cup squad.

Strengths: Brute hitting force and spinners

One of Afghanistan’s biggest strengths is its power-hitting. On the same night, they stunned Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round of the Asia Cup. Rahmanullah Gurbaz can play some exceptional strokes in the powerplay, while Najibullah Zadran has been one of their star performers in the middle overs. Hazratullah Zazai has not been in good touch of late, but when he is among the runs, he is one of the most destructive T20 batters in world cricket.

If we look at Afghanistan’s bowling, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman are two of the best spinners in world cricket at present. They have plied their trade in numerous T20 competitions across the globe and have tasted a lot of success. If they do well in the T20 World Cup, Afghanistan might end up stunning one of the top teams. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb are quality bowlers and, significantly, wicket-taking ones. Opponents would be wary of their skills with the ball.

Weaknesses: Way too predictable

There is a lot of sameness to Afghanistan’s performance in T20Is with both bat and ball. With the willow, they just go bang, bang, and bang. On days when their big-hitting comes off, they sometimes upset the big names in world cricket. However, when their batting flops, they score too few runs on other days. Although in T20Is, runs matter a lot, sometimes it is important to bat according to the situation. Afghanistan are yet to learn that mode of play.

Similarly, in bowling, they are heavily dependent on Rashid and Mujeeb. The spinners often deliver key blows at different phases in the game. Mujeeb even opens the bowling. However, Afghanistan often struggles in the bowling department when they have an off-day. They need to find a way wherein the others can also chip in and make a significant difference.

Opportunities: For pacers to make an impact

Afghanistan have a decent pace bowling line-up even though they are not as experienced. Farid Ahmad Malik and Fazalhaq Farooqi came up with some impressive performances in the Asia Cup. Naveen ul Haq also has done well in phases for the team. In pacer-friendly conditions in Australia, it would aid the team’s overall performance if they can make an impact.

Threats: Inability to finish off games

While Afghanistan have won some matches against top sides, on the big stage, they have often stumbled under pressure. It has happened twice in recent times against Pakistan. Last year, in the T20 World Cup, Asif Ali’s late strikes hurt them. In the Asia Cup, Naseem Shah’s two sixes stunned them. Lack of international experience has often become Afghanistan’s bane in tight situations. Can they overcome the same in the T20 World Cup?

Afghanistan’s T20 World Cup squad: Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran (vc), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Darwish Rasooli, Farid Ahmad Malik, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Naveen ul Haq, Qais Ahmad, Rashid Khan, Salim Safi, Usman Ghani

Reserves: Afsar Zazai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rahmat Shah, Gulbadin Naib

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