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Asghar Stanikzai

Afghanistan name spin-heavy squad for Test match debut

Asghar Stanikzai captain for both the T20I series against Bangladesh and Test match against India; Dawlat Zadran misses out with injury.

Two uncapped players, including one spinner in a pack of five, have been named by Afghanistan for their maiden Test match, to be played against India in Bangalore from 14 June.

Mohammad Nabi, the experienced off-spinning all-rounder, Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the finger spinner, were all expected picks. With them were added Zahir Khan, the left-arm wrist-spinner who hasn’t played internationally yet, and Amir Hamza, the left-arm spinner with the experience of 31 one-day internationals and the same number of Twenty20 Internationals.

Apart from Zahir, the Afghans also have Wafadar, the 18-year-old paceman who has played just three first-class matches, in their list of uncapped players for the historic game, where India will be led by Ajinkya Rahane in the absence of Virat Kohli.


Zahir, meanwhile, is just 19 but has played seven first-class matches to date, in which he has 34 wickets. Of those, 31 came in the Intercontinental Cup, which Afghanistan won before they got Test status. He was part of the Rajasthan Royals set-up in the 2018 Indian Premier League – one of four Afghans in the tournament along with Nabi, Rashid and Mujeeb – but left without playing a game after picking up a finger injury.

Missing out from the side to be led by Asghar Stanikzai is Dawlat Zadran, the premier Afghan paceman, who has picked up a knee injury.


The rest of the squad was along expected lines, with Mohammad Shahzad, the wicket-keeper, Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah, Nasir Jamal, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi the main batting options, apart from the captain, and pacemen in Sayed Shirzad and Yamin Ahmadzai, apart from Wafadar. Afsar Zazai is the back-up wicket-keeping option.

The squad for the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, to be played in the north Indian city of Dehradun on 3, 5 and 7 June, was also named, and wore a very different look from the Test line-up.

Only five members of the Test line-up – captain Stanikzai, Shahzad, Nabi, Rashid and Mujeeb – are in the 16-man T20I squad, with the familiar faces of Usman Ghani, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Gulbadin Naib and Shapoor Zadran featuring too. Called up to the national team for the first time is Darwish Rasooli, the 18-year-old batsman.

A knee injury has put Dawlat Zadran out of action
A knee injury has put Dawlat Zadran out of action


Squads

For Bangladesh T20I series: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Najeeb Tarakai, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Darwish Rasooli, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Shapoor Zadran, Aftab Alam

For India Test: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Nasir Jamal, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Sayed Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Wafadar, Zahir Khan 

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Afghanistan fans celebrate a boundary during the 2019 Cricket World Cup warm up match between England and Afghanistan at The Oval in London on May 27, 2019.

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