Afghanistan – 2019 Cricket World Cup Preview
As an emerging nation, Afghanistan will travel to the 2019 Cricket World Cup more in hope than expectation. This Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup squad is a talented side, though. At the very least, they have the potential to upset one or two of the bigger nations during the group stage.
In this article, we will consider Afghanistan’s brief history in the tournament while analysing their strengths and weaknesses this year. It may be a brave man who takes a Satta on this team. Nevertheless, they are not travelling to the UK just to make up the numbers.
How Afghanistan got to the 2019 Cricket World Cup
Afghanistan needed to play through a set of qualifiers in order to confirm their place at the 2019 World Cup. The ICC had decreed that hosts England, along with the next seven highest ranked ODI sides would qualify automatically. But the Afghans were outside of those places at the September 2017 cut off point.
The squad then headed to Zimbabwe for the 2018 qualifiers and things didn’t start well. One win from four group games was a poor return. However, it was just enough to scrape through ahead of Nepal and Hong Kong on net run rate.
Next up was the Super Six stage. An improved set of performances subsequently saw Afghanistan through to the final where they met the West Indies. ICC rules stated that both sides would progress to the World Cup. That said, the Afghans finished in style, beating the Windies by the comfortable margin of seven wickets.
Afghanistan’s odds to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup
The Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup squad are the lowest ranked team at the 2019 tournament as far as the sportsbooks are concerned. At the start of March 2019, Afghanistan could be backed at odds of 81.00 with Bet365 for the outright win in the UK.
There’s no doubt that this Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup side contains some quality players. Rashid Khan is a big draw at the IPL and for T20 franchise teams across the world. Furthermore, many of his teammates are now playing in the big leagues. They look to have a strong future but in 2019, the format of the competition is against them. Therefore, we don’t expect this Afghanistan team to make it out of the groups.
Afghanistan’s history in the World Cup
Afghanistan’s World Cup history only begins at the 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand. Up to and including the 2003 competition, they were not an ICC member nation. Meanwhile, they did not qualify for the finals in 2007 and 2011.
So we move back just four years where we find the Afghans placed in Pool A. This placed them alongside Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Scotland. It all started with a heavy defeat to Bangladesh. And while they lost the follow up, Afghanistan did, at least, push Sri Lanka into the 49th over.
A historic moment followed in Dunedin when the country claimed their first ever win at a World Cup finals. Scotland were the opponents and, batting first, the Scots were restricted to 210 all out at the end of their 50 overs.
Chasing 211 to win, Afghanistan lost wickets on a regular basis. However, 96 from Samiullah Shenwari took them home in a thrilling finish with three balls to spare.
Unfortunately, the 2015 squad couldn’t maintain that success. Their next game saw them plunge to a 275 run defeat against Australia, the highest in World Cup history. Further losses to New Zealand and England followed. But at least that solitary victory meant that they finished above Scotland in this section.
Can the 2019 Afghanistan team improve on that record and put at least two wins on the board?
Afghanistan’s best player heading into the 2019 Cricket World Cup
We’ve already mentioned the name and if, for some reason, you’ve yet to see him in action, remember to look out for Rashid Khan. He is the team’s top Cricket World Cup player. Khan first burst on to the scene as a young, leg spinning sensation. And along with stints at Sunrisers Hyderabad, he’s featured in big T20 leagues right across the world.
Not only does Rashid take key wickets, he keeps things tight in the middle overs as many batsmen find it impossible to pick his variations. He’s still only 20, but the leggie has over 100 wickets in ODIs with an incredible best of 7/18 and an impressive economy rate of under 4.00. Batting is improving too, as Rashid now has three half centuries in this format with a best of 60 not out.
Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup Schedule
Here are the confirmed group fixtures for the Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup team on the upcoming Cricket World Cup schedule. Included are the dates for the semi finals and final, should they get to that stage.
|June 4th||Cardiff||Sri Lanka|
|June 8th||Taunton||New Zealand|
|June 15th||Cardiff||South Africa|
|June 18th||Old Trafford||England|
|July 4th||Headingley||West Indies|
|July 9th||Old Trafford||Semi Final One|
|July 11th||Edgbaston||Semi Final Two|
Afghanistan’s biggest question mark heading into the World Cup
The issue with this Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup squad is whether their bowling attack can succeed in English conditions. We’ll come on to the spinners shortly, but the seam unit is much weaker and there is certainly a lack of outright pace.
If the World Cup was being played in Asia, then the country could well be looking forward to a more productive campaign. However, the team who wins the tournament is likely to have better balance with seam and pace first up, backed by high quality slow bowling.
Afghanistan’s biggest area of strength heading into the World Cup
It’s worth noting that the Afghanistan 2019 Cricket World Cup batters have just broken the world record T20 score. They made 278/3 against Ireland, so opposition bowlers may now be taking notice. However, it’s that spin bowling lineup that really stands out.
Led by Rashid Khan and backed by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, this is arguably the best attack in terms of mystery spin in the whole tournament.