Dubai: The performance of Afghanistan, which uses Sharjah Cricket Stadium as their homeground, will be closely followed by UAE cricket fans during the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Cup in Bangladesh.
Many of their players, including skipper Mohammad Nabi ply their trade in UAE’s domestic scene while coach Kabir Khan was the former coach of the UAE team. The unpredictable nature of this format makes Afghanistan a dangerous team as they love to attack whether batting or bowling and enjoy the game to the hilt.
Soon after qualifying for the Twenty20 World Cup. Nabi admitted to Gulf News: “We like Twenty20 cricket more than One-dayers. We love to play our natural game and that is very much suited to Twenty20 cricket,” he said.
It will be Afghanistan’s third straight appearance in the T-20 World Cup and this year, they need to top their group in the first round qualifiers to get to play the top teams. They commence their campaign against hosts Bangladesh on March 16 at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, whom they had stunned in the recent Asia Cup.
Afghanistan’s rise as a formidable team is talked about as one of the most inspiring tales in world cricket. Despite their country being torn apart due to war and with no international teams touring their country due to security reasons, their players have managed to produce sterling performances in international cricket. In 2013, they won 26 of the 28 matches in all formats against Associate and Affiliate nations.
From their two previous appearances in Twenty20 World Cup, they have learned a lot. In 2010 World Twenty20 Cup in West Indies, they lost to India and South Africa in the group stages. Two years later, they performed better in losing by only 23 runs to India but England thrashed them by 116 runs.
Afghanistan players’ familiarity with the conditions in Bangladesh makes them stronger than ever before. Some of their players have played in the premier division of the Dhaka Premier League (DPL). “Six to seven of our players have played in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and DPL and it was a learning experience for our players. We are good in all departments of the game and so we will go into the second round of the World Cup,” said 29-year-old Nabi.
Mohammad Shahzad, their wicketkeeper-batsman is a hard hitter and so are Nawroz Mangal, Samiullah Shenwari and Karim Sadiq. The injury to pacer Hamid Hassan during the Asia Cup, however, has been a big blow but they still have an impressive bowling attack.