Combative Afghanistan must defy odds at T20 World Cup

Minnows UAE vow to 'make an impact' at T20 World Cup: Scotland eye Super 12 repeat at T20 World Cup

Published: 02:24 PM, 14 Oct, 2022
Combative Afghanistan must defy odds at T20 World Cup
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Afghanistan are looking to their wily spinners and aggressive batsmen to rise to a stiff challenge in the Super 12 stage of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

Mohammad Nabi's team are placed in a tough group alongside hosts and title-holders Australia, former champions England, New Zealand and two qualifiers. Only two of those six will make it into the semi-finals.

If that was not enough, off the field Afghanistan's cricket board is facing a financial crisis because funds from the International Cricket Council are not reaching the country due to sanctions on the Taliban government.

The Afghans were touted as dark-horses at the recent Asia Cup, but in the Super Four stage they lost to eventual champions Sri Lanka and also Pakistan and India.

Skipper Nabi nevertheless took some positives.

"As a unit, as a team, we showed in the Asia Cup that Afghanistan has quality batsmen, bowlers and fielders," Nabi said at the time.

"We are known to defend totals, not chase totals. Our team looks properly balanced."

Afghanistan's biggest strength is their globe-trotting spin quartet of Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Qais Ahmad.

They have featured in various Twenty20 leagues around the world and have ample experience of Australian pitches while playing in the Big Bash League. They know how to stop runs and take wickets in Australia.

Former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson fears Afghanistan's spinners could cause havoc against the 2021 beaten finalists.

"I'm a little bit wary of New Zealand playing Afghanistan at Melbourne," said Hesson.

"Because the Melbourne pitch does take turn and the Afghanistan spinners are as good as there are throughout the world. That's going to be a tough game for the Black Caps."

Besides the spin attack, Afghanistan now also have quality left-arm pacers in Fazalhaq Farooqi and Fareed Ahmad.

True to their aggressive nature, Afghanistan's batting is full of hard hitters.

The opening duo of Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz can hit over the top at will. The middle order is packed with Najibullah Zadran, all-rounder Nabi, Ibrahim Zadran and newcomer Darwish Rasooli.

Recently joined head coach Jonathan Trott, the former England batsman, has brought a degree of sanity to the cavalier batting style by directing one batter to hold one end while others hit around him.

UAE vow to 'make an impact' at T20 World Cup

The United Arab Emirates have qualified for the T20 World Cup for only a second time but the cricket minnows face a tough task to go any further in Australia.

They begin against the Netherlands on Sunday in Geelong and much will depend on their batting, led by opener Muhammad Waseem and captain Chundangapoyil Rizwan.

The UAE will also play recent Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka and Namibia in Group A. Only the top two reach the Super-12 stage, a feat they have never achieved before.

The 28-year-old Waseem smacked 58 against Singapore recently and averages more than 40 at T20 international level, with a top score of 112 against Ireland.

Right-hander Rizwan hit his highest score, 51, in a two-game series against Bangladesh last month.

The UAE lost both matches but pushed Bangladesh all the way in the first, losing by seven runs.

"We can put up a great show out there," Rizwan told

"We are looking to make an impact, qualify for the next stage, express ourselves and execute our skills on a bigger stage."

There were eyebrows raised when their 15-player squad was named, with the UAE's most capped-player Rohan Mustafa missing.

The 33-year-old all-rounder was also left out for the Asia Cup qualifiers in Oman and failed to regain his spot.

The UAE have made the T20 World Cup only once, in 2014, when they were drawn in a group with the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Ireland -- and lost all three matches.

"Qualifying to play against top national teams of the world marks a milestone with UAE cricket's growing strengths in the T20 format," said UAE chairman of selectors Tayeb Kamali.

"We wish our team the very best as they continue to make their mark on international cricket."

A mostly youthful bowling attack will be led by the experienced Junaid Siddique, a right-arm seamer who has taken 29 wickets in 25 T20 internationals.

Leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan, who is 21, took four wickets on debut against Namibia, while left-arm spinner Aayan Khan is only 16 years old.

The teenager has showed plenty of promise, taking three Bangladesh wickets in his first two appearances for the UAE with a best of 2-33.

Scotland eye Super 12 repeat at T20 World Cup

Scotland must defy a lack of match action if they are to equal their achievements of last year at next week's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

The Scots won all three matches in their group at the 2021 tournament in the UAE and Oman, including a victory against Test nation Bangladesh, before losing all five games in the second phase.

Since then they have played just two T20 official internationals, suffering heavy defeats against New Zealand in July.

But Scotland beat the Netherlands by 18 runs in a warm-up match in Melbourne on Monday, with captain Richie Berrington top-scoring with 41.

Scotland, ranked 15th in T20 cricket, play their Group B opener against the West Indies in Hobart on October 17 in a match in which the two-time T20 world champions from the Caribbean will be heavy favourites.

The other teams in Group B are Ireland and Zimbabwe, with the four sides battling it out for two places in the Super 12 phase.

Scotland cricket chiefs will be desperate for success on the pitch with the game in the country still reeling from a damning report in July that found nearly 450 examples of institutional racism.

The entire Cricket Scotland board resigned 24 hours before the report was published, with the organisation placed into special measures. A new chairman, Anjan Luthra, is now in post.

Bowlers Brad Wheal and Josh Davey, who both play English county cricket, are in the World Cup squad while all-rounder Brandon McMullen has earned a maiden call-up after impressing in Scottish domestic cricket.

Spin pair Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir will add variety to the attack.

South Africa-born Berrington, 35, who scored two half-centuries on his way to 177 runs at last year's tournament, will be one of the key batsmen along with George Munsey and Calum MacLeod.

"We haven't played a lot of T20 cricket as a group since last year's World Cup, but we know what we can do in this format," said head coach Shane Burger.

"I have faith that the guys are going to step up to the mark again when the tournament proper gets under way."

Categories : T20 World Cup

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