World Twenty20 team preview: Afghanistan

Reports & previews

Afghanistan are the sentimental favourites of world cricket. When they beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup recently, the only people cheering for the Tigers were their parents.

<b>Captain:</b> Mohammad Nabi<br><b>Coach:</b> Kabir Khan<br><b>WT20 Best:</b> Group A exit, 2012

<b>Overview</b><br>Afghanistan are the sentimental favourites of world cricket. When they beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup recently, the only people cheering for the Tigers were their parents, and maybe even they did a quiet fist pump behind their backs.

The team reckons the shortest format is their best bet in terms of wining games, and they focus their attentions on it. They didn't win a game in 2013, out of nine, and haven't played a T20 this year, but could get a win on the board in the qualifying stage.

<b>Key Batsman</b><br>During the Asia Cup, Samiullah Shenwari scored two half tons, and his 81 against Bangladesh (in conjunction with the 90 Asghar Stanikzai made) laid the platform for the side's first ODI win against a Test-playing nation. Oddly, his average in T20s is half that of ODIs, so we'll see if this hunch pays off.

<b>Key Bowler</b><br>The Ishant Sharma of Afghanistan cricket, but with more control and cleaner hair, is Shapoor Zadran. A fan favourite, his pace and bounce has often made leading batsmen uncomfortable. He averages 23 in 17 T20s, and can rock a top order with the best of them.

<b>Likely Benchwarmer</b><br>Batsman Najeeb Tarakai isn't likely to play many games. He's only got three matches under his belt and last played a proper match in 2011. He averages 18.

<b>Cricket365's Prediction</b><br>Sentimentally, we're going to say they'll win all their games and then rock the group stages, doing a Mighty Ducks-like surge to the trophy. But, in all likelihood, they'll get one win out of three in the qualifiers.

<b>They Said:</b> "We prefer T20 cricket to ODIs. Anything can happen in T20 matches. We are not targeting anything. We will just play positive cricket. We will play our natural game." – captain <b>Mohammad Nabi</b>.

<b>Squad:</b> Mohammad Shahzad, Najeeb Tarakai, Karim Sadiq, Nowroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Mirwais Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Hamza Hotak, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Najeeb Zadran.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>16 March: v Bangladesh, Mirpur<br>18 March: v Hong Kong, Chittagong<br>20 March: v Nepal, Chittagong

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