Hassan made a stunning comeback to the Afghanistan 15-man squad for the tournament, having last played an ODI in 2016. Recurring injuries had kept him out of the side, but the Afghanistan selectors surprised many with his inclusion in the World Cup squad.
In 2015, Hassan took eight wickets in six matches, and played a crucial hand with the bat as Afghanistan saw off Scotland in a thriller for their maiden World Cup win. He brings plenty of experience to the side on his return, but injuries have taken a toll on him, prompting him to consider retirement.
“Probably this is going to be my last World Cup for my country. I may stop playing ODI cricket after this tournament,” he said in an interview to the Afghanistan Cricket Board. “However, I would continue playing T20 cricket, either for Afghanistan or in the Shpageeza League (domestic T20 league) or the leagues abroad.
“As a player who has dedicated all his life to cricket, the decision to quit is always a tough one. However, after a lot of thought, I felt after the injuries and the recovery process I went through, it is time to consider my health seriously.
“If I continue playing further ODI cricket, it may harm my knee. However, if I play four-day cricket, it’ll help me extend my cricket career, enabling me to participate in T20s for Afghanistan.”
After the injuries and the recovery process I went through, it is time to consider my health seriously.
For now though, he is mighty pleased about his fine achievement in getting picked for the World Cup, especially after the hard work that has gone into regaining fitness. “It’s a joyous moment for me to return to the national side after three years, and getting the opportunity to participate in this tournament, which is a dream for any cricket player,” said Hassan. “But I’d also like to tell the fans that I have proven my fitness to earn my place.
“I worked hard for the last six months in various fitness and training camps. I hope I will be able to perform well in the upcoming World Cup and pay back [for the faith]. It was a long gap, and I think there would be very few players who would have returned for a tournament like the World Cup after such a gap.”
The motivation to bid adieu on a high, however, has played a part in Hassan’s decision. “It’s not that I cannot continue to play cricket. However, when a player goes through injury and recovery process, there are further chances of getting injured again,” he said.
“Every player has to retire one day. There are players in the national team who are senior and are of the same age as me. I think it is better to bid farewell when you’re performing well, and have a good name, before it becomes a burden for the national team.”
Afghanistan open their World Cup campaign against Australia on 1 June – Hassan’s 32nd birthday.