Afghanistan v Australia, only ODI, Sharjah August 24, 2012

Afghanistan ready for 'huge moment'


Match facts

August 25-26, 2012
Start time 1800 (1400 GMT)

Big Picture

Ten years ago, the idea of a one-day international between Australia and Afghanistan seemed about as plausible as playing cricket on the moon. But Afghanistan's cricket progress has been one of the most remarkable success stories in the game's recent history and now they have a chance to play Australia for the first time. The one-off match will be Afghanistan's second ODI against an ICC full member and Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland said when he announced the fixture last month that he hoped it would help the development of the Afghanistan team.

"Everyone in world cricket have been really impressed with how cricket has flourished in Afghanistan, despite its pressing national problems," Sutherland said at the time. "As an ICC member, CA strongly supports world cricket's ambition for cricket to continue to develop as a global sport and that, combined with the strong relationships between our two countries, encouraged us to look at how we might recognise and encourage Afghanistan by playing them on the field."

Australia are expected to win the match but their captain Michael Clarke was careful not to underestimate Afghanistan before the game, noting that they would be more familiar with the conditions, whereas Australia have just come from a tour of England and a cold winter back home. The Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal said the match would be "a huge moment" for all of his players.

There is another reason this fixture is significant: it is rare, if not unprecedented, for a one-day international to be played across two days. The extreme heat in the UAE forced a rethink of the playing times for a 50-over contest and to avoid the worst of the sun, it was decided that Australia's ODIs against Afghanistan and Pakistan would start at 6pm and would be scheduled to finish at 1.45am. It is not so much day-night cricket as night-morning cricket.

Form guide (Complete matches, most recent first)

Afghanistan LWLLW
Australia LLLLW

Watch out for

The legspinner Samiullah Shenwari is Afghanistan's leading wicket taker in one-day internationals, with 27 victims at 26.66. He also doesn't mind the conditions in Sharjah, where he has played five of his 22 ODIs, and where he picked up his best figures of 4 for 31 against Canada. The Australians will be a stiffer challenge, but on a pitch expected to offer some turn he could prove a tricky customer.

Glenn Maxwell will become Australia's 196th one-day international player and the sixth man to debut for them in the format this year. In 2010-11, he broke the record for the fastest half-century in Australian domestic one-day history, with a 19-ball effort for Victoria, and he will provide some strikepower in the lower middle order. He is athletic in the field and will enjoy bowling on the turning Sharjah surface.

Team news

Afghanistan have named a 15-man squad, with their captain Nawroz Mangal back in the mix after he missed their most recent matches in Ireland in July.

Afghanistan (possible) 1 Karim Sadiq, 2 Javed Ahmadi, 3 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 4 Nawroz Mangal (capt), 5 Najibullah Zadran, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Asghar Stanikzai, 8 Samiullah Shenwari, 9 Gulbodin Naib, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran

Australia have named their starting XI ahead of time. Maxwell will make his international debut and Clarke has promoted himself to No.3. The four players to miss out from within the squad were Callum Ferguson, Daniel Christian, Steven Smith and Alister McDermott.

Australia 1 Matthew Wade (wk), 2 Dave Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 George Bailey, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 James Pattinson, 11 Xavier Doherty

Pitch and conditions

"The wicket looks quite hard, there's no grass on it at all," Clarke said on the day before the match. "I think as the game goes on there'll probably be a bit more spin throughout the game."

The weather can be summed up in one word: scorching. Even late at night the temperature is not expected to dip below 34C.

Stats and trivia

  • This is Afghanistan's second ODI against a full member of the ICC; they lost their first by seven wickets to Pakistan in Sharjah in February
  • Although most of their games have been against fellow associate members, Afghanistan have an impressive ODI record, having won 12 of the 22 matches they have played
  • The No.3 position has been a problem for Australia in ODIs recently; in the past year they have used six batsmen there for a combined average of 21.13


    "This will be a huge moment for every single one of us, playing against the mighty Australians."
    Nawroz Mangal, the Afghanistan captain

    "They've played a lot of cricket over the last couple of weeks in preparation for the T20 World Cup. It's an opportunity for them to come out with nothing to lose and plenty to gain."
    Australia's captain Michael Clarke

    Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 27, 2012, 1:35 GMT

    ICC propear ather one day matches for Afghanistan with full membr shep countries

  • Andrew on August 26, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    @Smith Robertson - the impressive aspect is that cricket was not played in any organised manner in Afghanistan 10yrs ago. As recently as 8yrs ago they were in the WCL 7 with teams like Germany. They are the only Affiliate member of the ICC to have ODI status. So their 12/22 record needs to be looked at in a different light, also the FACT is, the that technically Afghanistan does NOT have Associate status, so this makes their performances all the more meritorious!

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    "Although most of their games have been against fellow associate members, Afghanistan have an impressive ODI record, having won 12 of the 22 matches they have played" - I don't understand why the writer says this record is impressive because 20 of those matches were against associates plus they still lost 8 to them. Its a below par record not an impressive record infact, Ireland record is much much impressive than this.

  • Andrew on August 25, 2012, 21:43 GMT

    Top effort Afghanistan. They did really well even without their best bowler!

  • Andrew on August 25, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    Very dissappointed that Hamid Hasan's injury has not appeared to have recovered in time from this match. He would of guaranteed that Oz would of had to work for their runs. Good luck Afgani's, I don't want you to win, but run us close! == == == Given Oz's involvement in the Allied forces in Afghanistan, which has directly resulted in Afghan people being able to play elite sport, I'd like the Oz gov't to further sponsor an annual or every 2nd yr, some sort of ODI series between the 2 sides. Maybe all it has to be is invite them as the 3rd leg of a tri-series. I think it would do a lot of good in ways that would go beyond cricket/sport!

  • richard on August 25, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    its an honour and a privalege for Australia toi play Afganistan, i only wish one day the inventers of the game can match the humility of the afganis.

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 13:51 GMT

    Good Luck Afghanistan wish you guys all the best

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    Guys, where is Hamid Hassan???

  • Dummy4 on August 25, 2012, 13:42 GMT


  • Lakmal on August 25, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    All the best to Afgan brothers! -From Srilankan fan.

  • No featured comments at the moment.