Afghanistan’s cricket team faces a setback as their legendary spinner, Rashid Khan, remains sidelined due to an ongoing recovery from a back injury. The 25-year-old underwent minor surgery post the ODI World Cup, causing him to miss key tournaments like the Big Bash League and a T20I series against India.

Khan’s absence paves the way for wrist spinner Qais Ahmad, who, despite having played only one Test match, is called up to fill the void.

Adding to the mix, young spinner Zia-ur-Rehman and the returning Noor Ali Zadran are named in the 16-member squad. Ali Zadran showcased his prowess in the Asian Games final against India and notably scored a half-century against Sri Lanka in the Quarter-final. However, his cricketing hiatus since then raises questions about his readiness.

The squad introduces uncapped wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Ishaq and right-arm medium-pacer Naveed Zadran. Naveed’s domestic cricket performance, claiming 35 wickets in seven first-class matches, including three five-wicket hauls, highlights his potential impact.

Conspicuously missing from the lineup are all-rounders Karim Janat and Amir Hamza, part of Afghanistan’s Test squad in 2023. The trio of Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, and Rahmat Shah retains their positions but faces the challenge of redemption after a humiliating 546-run defeat against Bangladesh Tigers last summer.

Despite Afghanistan’s limited exposure to Test cricket, playing only seven matches since 2018, they are gearing up for a formidable challenge against Sri Lanka. The latter aims for redemption after a series defeat against Pakistan in 2023. Hashmatullah Shahidi captains the squad, leading a mix of experienced players and promising talents.

Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah (vc), Bahir Shah, Nasir Jamal, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Ishaq (wk), Qais Ahmad, Zia-ur-Rehman, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Nijat Masood, Mohammad Saleem and Naveed Zadran

By Ritik Sharma

A common man who is doing calm se kaam, a failed cricketer, still in love with it. Establishing my journey into Journalism & if you love my articles then share it with your dear ones Instagram - @ritiksharma45