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Umar Farooq and Mohammad Isam
September 18, 2012
Like other top Associate and Affiliate nations, Afghanistan's enthusiasm for the game hasn't been satiated by participation in the Intercontinental Cup and the World Cricket League Championships. After completing qualification for the Sri Lanka event, they were invited to take part in the Port-of-Spain Twenty20 tournament. They ended up as champions, winning $50,000 ahead of Bangladesh (playing as BCB XI), Barbados and the hosts Trinidad & Tobago. But these competitions are still a world away from the cauldron of the World Twenty20s where they have to get everything right against India and England, their group stage opponents.
As can be expected from a team that relies on raw skill, Afghanistan have plenty of batsmen who take the aerial route. Mohammad Shahzad will get things rolling alongside the young Javed Ahmadi. Karim Sadiq, captain Nawroz Mangal and Asghar Stanikzai make up the middle-order, with all three capable of attack. Mohammad Nabi is the star big-hitter and has been recently used up the order to further their attacking ambitions.
They missed fast bowler Hamid Hassan for eight months this year but his return as the team's leading bowler would help the likes of Dawlat Zadran and Izatullah Dawlatzai who carried the attack in the interim, with left-arm pacer Shapoor Zadran also helping out. Samiullah Shenwari's leg-breaks and the off-spin of Nabi bring variation but against the big hitters of England and India, the spinners' eight overs would be heavily tested.
Afghanistan should give their group A opponents, as strong as they maybe, reasons to worry. After all, England knows all too well what it's like to lose to one of the smaller teams in the opening game of this competition.
World T20 history
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent; Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondentFeeds: Umar Farooq
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala