Afghanistan and Scotland will start their Super 12 campaign on Monday. This will be an interesting match for Afghanistan, who till few years back used to be in Scotland’s position and they had go through qualification stage for big tournaments. However, now based on the merit of their performance they have entered the ongoing T20 World Cup as one of the top eight teams and will start the match as favourites because of their superior bowling strength. Their preparation was not ideal due to the Visa issues and the ongoing situation back home. But Afghanistan will look to give their best to provide some joy to their fans.
Afghanistan also had a change in captain as Rashid Khan resigned just after the team was announced. However, in Mohammad Nabi they have their most experienced player as captain who had led this team for long and proved himself as an astute leader. Nabi himself is in good form and his spell of 4-2-2-3 against West Indies in the practice match was magical. Nabi will provide support to Rashid Khan, one of the top bowlers in the T20 format. They also have Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, the mystery spinner and these 12 overs of spin will be the biggest challenge for the opposition batters.
They also have enough quality at the top of the order to post a big score. Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammed Shahzad generally play fearless cricket at the top. They will be followed by young Rahmanullah Gurbaz and experienced Asghar Afghan, Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib. Some of these players have more than 100 T20 experience and would know exactly how to play at the pitches of Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
However, they still may face challenges against India, Pakistan and New Zealand as the combined skill of the players from those countries are much higher and competing with them for 40 overs consistently could be their biggest challenge. But on their day, Afghanistan can shock any team if one or two of their key players can deliver their best.
Afghanistan know that still they are not favourite to go further from this group. But they will look to beat Scotland and Namibia comfortably to show that they now belong to a different league. In the match days against India, Pakistan, and New Zealand, they will hope to have at least one good day and then try to bring Net Run Rate and other calculation in the picture to push for their qualification.