Afghanistan Bank On Spin, Zimbabwe Look To Make Use Of Home Advantage At CWC Qualifier
Afghanistan will be banking on their Rashid Khan-led spin attack to do wonders while Zimbabwe will be looking to take advantage of home conditions when they turn out in next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Cremer acknowledged that the tournament would not be easy but opined that the home conditions could give them the edge.
“It’s very, very special for us to have such a big tournament in our country. It will be a tough tournament, the associate teams have come a long way, but hopefully being in our home conditions, we will qualify. With the home crowd behind us, we are confident about our chances. It will be very special for me to captain the side and take the team through to the World Cup,” he said.
Masakadza, who has scored more than 5,000 runs in ODI cricket, also hoped to draw inspiration from the crowd.
“It’s very exciting to be playing at home. We have got a very passionate cricket following, they follow us quite closely, we owe them a lot. We are massively confident, because playing at home, that’s a massive advantage. The way the team is playing and gelling together, we are really confident that we have the team to go all the way in the tournament. It is very special to represent the country, for me, it’s my last chance to play in the World Cup,” said the 34-year-old.
The two sides were involved in an ODI series earlier this month wherein Afghanistan completed a 4-1 series win in Sharjah on Monday. The Afghanistan spinners once again coming to the fore and sent out a warning signal to others in the upcoming competition.
Leg-spinner Rashid, who was already a hot property in limited overs cricket, shot up eight places to take the joint-top position in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Player Rankings along with India pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah after taking 16 wickets in the series. Rashid became the youngest ever male player at the top of the rankings and also gained 11 slots to grab the fourth position for all-rounders.
Rashid’s ascendancy was not the lone positive for their spinners as upcoming spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who was part of their squad at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand last month, moved up 90 places to take the 67th position as he picked up 12 wickets in the series including a five-wicket haul in the fourth match.
Experienced all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, who gained seven slots to reach the 11th position after taking five wickets in the series with his off-spin bowling, was buoyant about the prospects of their spin attack.
“We feel very proud to be playing in the qualifying round and will hopefully qualify for the World Cup. We have confidence in our spin attack. It is important for the whole nation that we qualify for the World Cup because that is the only thing that gets them happiness,” he said.
Afghanistan’s batsmen also had much to cheer about as Rahmat Shah’s 272 runs in the series made him the top-ranked batsman from his side, gaining 40 slots to reach 42nd position. Mohammad Shahzad remained in 50th position while Javed Ahmadi (18 places up to 83rd) and Najibullah Zadran (up 23 places to 93rd) also made headway.
For Zimbabwe, Sikandar Raza (45th), Brendan Taylor (52nd), Hamilton Masakadza (67th) and Craig Ervine (76th) are all capable of delivering with the bat while some leg-spin bowling from captain Graeme Cremer (29th), medium-fast stuff from Tendai Chatara and useful off-spin bowling from Sikandar Raza (62nd) could prove useful in front of home crowds.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Ihsanullah Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Nasir Jamal, Javed Ahmadi, Mujeeb Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shinwari, Shahpoor Zadran and Sharafuddin Ashraf. Phil Simmons (coach)
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (captain), Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara, Tendai Chisoro, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Hamilton Masakadza, Solomon Mire, Peter Moor, Tarisai Musakanda, Blessing Muzarabani, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller. Heath Streak (coach)