World Cup 2015 news December 29, 2014

Zazai, Ghani in Afghanistan World Cup squad

ESPNcricinfo staff

Usman Ghani scored his maiden ODI century against Zimbabwe earlier in the year © AFP

Afsar Zazai, the 21-year-old wicketkeeper batsman, and 18-year-old batsman Usman Ghani have been picked in Afghanistan's squad for the 2015 World Cup, the side's maiden appearance at the tournament. Wicketkeeper-batsman Shafiqullah has been named among the four standbys for the squad, which will be led by captain Mohammad Nabi.

Zazai had made his ODI debut for Afganistan in the recent four-match series against UAE where he kept wicket in all games, even with Shafiqullah in the XI. Ghani, who also made his debut earlier this year, has scored 316 ODI runs, including a century against Zimbabwe in July, one of two Afghanistan batsmen to score ODI centuries in 2014.

Mohammad Shahzad, the experienced keeper-batsman, is not part of the squad. Shahzad has not played an ODI since the Asia Cup in March.

Afghanistan have opted for four pacers in the 15-member squad, with Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam and Hamid Hassan. The main squad has no specialist spinners and part-timers Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Javed Ahmadi will be expected to pitch in. Apart from Shafiqullah, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Izatullah Dawlatzai and Hashmatullah Shaidi have been named as standbys.

The selection meeting of the Afghanistan Cricket Board was conducted over two days and coach Andy Moles said there had been long discussions over the final 15.

Moles said that the players who had missed out on selection had been given reasons for the decision: "For the players who are not part of the list, the committee has already given them strong reasons for that. They are also given suggestions to work on the areas where they lack or struggle."

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