World Twenty20: Afghanistan team preview – Fitting right in with the big boys

Paul Radley previews Afghanistan cricket's fortunes ahead of the World Twenty20 Super 10 stage.

Outlook:

Afghanistan continued their dominance over Zimbabwe as they eased through the qualifying round with minimum trouble and maximum swagger.

Now the Afghans can reset that focus on getting another major scalp. They beat Bangladesh at the Asia Cup in 2014, and beat Zimbabwe whenever they fancy, as "home" (they play home matches in Sharjah) and away series wins in the past year show.

As such, “major scalp” does not just mean any old Test nation. They have their sights trained on one of the big boys.

South Africa might be a push, but Sri Lanka have looked laboured of late, West Indies are denuded by player withdrawals, while England have twice lost to the Netherlands in World T20s. Ripe for the picking, Afghanistan will think.

Coach: Inzamam-ul-Haq

Tournament best: Group stage in 2012

Match-winner: Mohammed Shahzad

The wicket-keeper opener with the distinctive paunch will be looking forward to being reunited with England, amongst others of Afghanistan’s group stage opponents.

He made dual half-centuries against England in a three-day match for a Rest of the World XI made up of the best players from the Associate and Affiliate sphere in 2012.

He will be confident heading into the main phase, too, having made 61, 41 and 40 in Round 1.

New face: Rashid Khan

His official age of 17 may be open to question. His skill certainly is not. As a legspinner who also bats well in the late middle order, Rashid has been a great find for a side requiring new young talent over the past year.

His bowling is a box of tricks that has showed up less experienced players of slow bowling. Whether it will outfox those of South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and West Indies remains to be seen, though.

Key match: Afghanistan v Sri Lanka, Kolkata, Thu Mar 17

Predicted finish: Group stage

pradley@thenational.ae

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