Afghanistan’s Fast-Paced Cricket Team: For years, the Taliban regime has encouraged cricket as an acceptable sport. In 2000, they allowed cricket to be played while wearing clothing that would not offend religious strictures against other sports such as tennis and football.
After rising up the ranks and winning a qualifier for the World Cup, players in the Afghanistan national cricket team made big moves on their way to battling in the 2016 Cricket World Cup.
Despite their failure to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, Afghanistan earned ODI status in 2013. In February 2010, Afghan cricket team qualified for the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
Afghanistan also qualified for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and became the 20th team to participate in the tournament overall. They are strong contenders for Test status if ICC accepts their request to expand member teams. Ireland is another strong contender for Test entry with Afghanistan.
Mohammad Nabi: A skilled batsman and off-spinner, Mohammad Nabi can easily be called the pillar of Afghanistan cricket. He played an instrumental role in the nation’s rise from Division 5 to qualifying for the 2015 World Cup and many glorious achievements in between.
Nabi is a right-hand middle-order batsman for Afghanistan. Nabi started playing cricket by himself in the tent at a refugee camp when he was quite young, and received international education when he stroked a big hundred for MCC against the United States.
He is a left-armed off-spinner and focuses on the traditional off-spin ball, or the doosra, than other new off-spinners. Nabi previously led Afghanistan since March 2013 and had a brief stint earlier in 2010. He was involved with Sylhet Royals in the Bangladesh Premier League and Afghan Cheetahs in Faysal Bank T20 tournament in Pakistan.
SAMIULLAH SHENWARI BIOGRAPHY:
Shenwari, who is one of Afghanistan’s lynchpins, rose to prominence in the recent years. He made his ODI debut in 2009, scoring 52*, 27 and then 39* in his first three games.
The highest point of Rashid’s career was when he helped his side to a win in the World Cup 2015 match against Scotland. He entered the game with innings of 42 and 38 under his belt and saw his team slide to 97 for 7 chasing 211. His ice cold 96 ensured Afghanistan won in the last over, their first in World Cup cricket. Amidst all this, one should not forget that Rashid’s leg-breaks are more accurate than penetrating, a 5-for-13 against Kenya in 2013 being just one occasion where he got on the board.
GULBADIN NAIB BIOGRAPHY:
While Gulbadin Naib, born in Afghanistan, played for his first game at 16, he has been a regular fixture in their national side. Gulbadin Naib’s contributions have significantly helped to fuel their rise (e.g., helping them win international matches).
With a passion for bodybuilding, he is also a well-known cricket player. Gulbadin Naib was actually included in the documentary Out of the Ashes, which detailed Afghanistan’s success in international cricket. He credited Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of his inspirations.
Nabi, a 23-year-old medium-fast bowler from Afghanistan, has only played one-fourth of his career and has a lot to contribute to Afghanistan cricket. His selection for the ICC World Cup 2015 indicates that he is still young and has much more potential for the Afghan team.
SHAPOOR ZADRAN BIOGRAPHY:
Zadran is a left-arm fast bowler from Afghanistan who made his debut as a teenager. Thanks to his tall frame and quick pace, Zadran generates enough bounce from the pitch to trouble any batsman.
Growing up in Pakistan, Zadran saw stars like Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar playing and wanted to follow their footsteps. He was coached by Kabir Khan for some of his early years before becoming an ODI debut and getting a four for 24. He has been regularly appearing in Afghanistan’s side as the spearhead of their attack and representing Khulna Royals Bengal in the Bangladesh premier League 2013.
DAWLAT ZADRAN BIOGRAPHY:
Dawlat Zadran is one of the leading fast-bowlers in the Afghanistan line-up, and usually opens the bowling for his side. Zadran hails from Khost in eastern Afghanistan and is one of the more experienced Afghan players in the side. Zadran’s career-best performance of three for 36 came against Hong Kong during the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Premier League held in 2014.
One memorable moment for him was his appearance in 24 not out off only seven balls. This innings helped Afghanistan to clinch a thriller of victory against Zimbabwe during the 2014 World Cricket League Division Four tournament. Dawlat remains an integral part of Afghan cricket, and is expected to shepherd the younger members of the Afghan pace attack in the future.
ASGHAR STANIKZAI BIOGRAPHY:
Stanikzai is a middle-order batsman and a clever medium-pace bowler known for his prowess in domestic cricket. Stanikzai made history when he became Afghanistan’s first ODI captain in March 2010, routing the opposition Bhutan Batsmen for 151 runs in an ACC Trophy match. Also in 2010, Stanikzai scored his maiden First-Class hundred against Namibia in the Inter-Continental Cup opening up the game for Afghanistan.
In March 2014, Stanikzai hit a crucial 168-run stand with Samiullah Shenwari in Afghanistan’s Asia Cup match. The stands brought the foundation for Afghanistan’s historic win over Bangladesh.
MOHAMMAD SHAHZAD BIOGRAPHY:
Mohammad Shahzad is a wicketkeeper-batsman who has been a mainstay in the Afghan team. He idolized MS Dhoni, and it became apparent when he hit Helicopter Shot to Zaheer Khan in the ICC World T20 2012 with Dhoni standing next to him. From early in his career, he consistently played fearless innings.
With one of the biggest ODI tons from an Afghanistan player, Shahzad is becoming a huge name in international cricket. He took part in their first ever ICC World T20 event in 2010, and also has two other appearances at T20 tournaments. At times turning his wicket into a burden when his batting goes south, he has been Afghanistan’s reliable wicketkeeper despite his aggressive style of bowlers.
KARIM SADIQUE BIOGRAPHY
Karim Sadique’s first ODI debut was against Scotland in 2009 and his last was against Zimbabwe in 2016. In total, Karim has played 14 ODIs and an unsurprisingly high one hundred matches across four formats of the game.
HAMZA HOTAK BIOGRAPHY
He started his career for Afghanistan playing for the West Indies at Ekana International Cricket Stadium on November 27, 2019. His last test match was against Zimbabwe at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on March 10, 2021. Next up is a game against Pakistan in Sharjah on February 10, 2012. Then he played his first T20 match in Afghanistan vs Scotland on March 3rd, 2013. Now he is in the squad to play against Zimbabwe at Sheikh Zayed Stadium on March 19th, 2021
MIRWAIS ASHRAF BIOGRAPHY:
Mirwais Ashraf is among the few talented all-rounders that Afghanistan has produced. Having debuted in 2006, he had some impressive statistics compared to his teammates. He has played a chunk of international games since his debut and has been one of Afghanistan’s best performers in both ODIs and T20I games. In the batting lineup, Mirwais Ashraf is a hard-hitting cricketer and also a wicket-to-wicket bowler. His influence on the team cannot be underestimated; while he may have more to prove on the international stage, he rack up some impressive numbers in First-Class cricket, where he sits atop of the ladder for being their best player in domestic mired. Unfortunately, though he was picked for World Cup 2015, he had to pull out due to an injury last month.
NAWROZ MANGAL BIOGRAPHY
A solid middle order batsman for Afghanistan who had led the team during its early years, ensuring that they gained ODI status during the 2009 World Cup Qualifiers. Like some of his teammates, Mangal had picked up cricket by staying in refugee camps during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was coached by former Afghan leg spinner Taj Maliq who was able to convince Mangal’s family to allow him to pursue cricket.
In 2009, Mangal was captain when Afghanistan won their first ODI against Scotland. He scored his maiden first-class ton in 2010 when he made 168 against Kenya. In 2013, Mangal’s best performance came again against Kenya – this time from form to help his team win. Until 2014, Mangal had helped Afghanistan with some solidity in the middle of their batting line-up.
NOOR ALI ZADRAN BIOGRAPHY
Nadir Ali Zadran’s ODI debut Afghanistan v Scotland at Willowmoore Park Main Oval, Benoni, April 19, 2009. Nadir Ali Zadran’s last ODI game was England v Afghanistan at Old Trafford, Manchester, June 18, 2019. Nadir Ali Zadran’s T20 debut was Afghanistan v Canada at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo with his last T20 game being West Indies v Afghanistan at Warner Park, Basseterre, June 5 2017