Ibrahim Momand is a Kabul-based cricket journalist and TV commentator
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Allrounder Mohammad Nabi has been named Afghanistan captain, replacing batsman Nawroz Mangal, under whose leadership the national team gained ODI status in the 2009 World Cup Qualifiers and qualified for the 2010 World Twenty20. Mangal was under pressure following Afghanistan's series defeat at the hands of Kenya in October and his own performances have been disappointing, with four successive scores of under ten. Mangal, who took over as captain in 2007, has been retained in Afghanistan's 14-man squad for the Asian Games which will be held in Guangzhou in China later this month.
Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Hamid Shinwari said Mangal had brought the team a long way to reach their present standing but he had yet to lead the team to an ODI series win. "We have played 16 one-day internationals but we could only win nine therefore we thought the burden of captaincy is too heavy on Nawroz and Nabi is the next best choice."
Shinwari said Nabi was preferred because "he is most talented and a quick learner who remained as vice-captain under Nawroz and played more games than any other in the team." Nabi has also played for the MCC in England and the Pakistan Customs team.
Shinwari added the decision was made only after consultation with technical and selection committees, Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif and Nabi himself, and all parties agreed.
Team manager Nazijar Abdul Rahimzai said the change in leadership was unlikely to affect Afghanistan's preparations for the Asian Games. "They [Mangal and Nabi] are still close friends and every player is participating regularly in the training."
A dissenting voice is former national captain, Raees Ahmadzai, who questioned the motive and the timing for the change. "It was based on personal affairs - the selection committee is not independent," Ahmadzai said. The ACB dismissed those claims as "baseless." Ahmadzai added "the timing doesn't have any logic while we are preparing for the Asian Games - Nawroz was doing well and it will not be easy to adjust the team with Mohammad Nabi until after the Games."