Afghanistan pick four spinners for inaugural Test
Afghanistan have picked four spinners - fingerspinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Amir Hamza and wristspinners Rashid Khan and Zahir Khan - in their 16-man squad for their inaugural Test, against India in Bengaluru from June 14.
While Mujeeb and Rashid are coming off successful IPL stints with Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively, left-arm wristspinner Zahir is returning from a finger injury that ruled him out from an IPL stint with Rajasthan Royals. The 19-year old was part of the Afghanistan squad that reached the semi-final of the Under-19 World Cup in January-February this year.
Left-arm offspinner Hamza, meanwhile, was the leading wicket-taker in the domestic first-class competition.
Though Zahir has not played ODIs or T20Is yet for Afghanistan, he was the team's leading wicket-taker during their title campaign in the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup, the ICC's first-class competition for Associates, taking 31 wickets in six matches. Fast bowler Wafadar was the only uncapped member of the Test squad. Afghanistan will miss the services of experienced fast bowler Dawlat Zadran because of a knee injury.
The second-most capped player Asghar Stanikzai will lead both the Test and the T20I squad that will play Bangladesh in three games in Dehradun from June 3. They will have experience in allrounder Mohammad Nabi, wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmat Shah and Hashmathullah Shahidi for the Tests.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan opted for a more youthful squad for the three T20Is against Bangladesh in Dehradun, with only five of the Test players retained for the series.
Under-19 batsman Darwish Rasooli earned a maiden national call-up on the back of strong performances at the World Cup, while Najib Tarakai was recalled after 15 months following strong domestic performances.
Afghanistan's preliminary squad has just concluded a set of practice matches in Greater Noida, following which the final squad was named by chief selector and former captain Nawroz Mangal.
Test Squad: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Nasir Jamal, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Sayed Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Wafadar, Zahir Khan
Squad for Bangladesh T20Is: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Najeeb Tarakai, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam