Afghanistan Cricket Board declares Squad for next Series

The Afghanistan Cricket Board has named those players who would travel to Australia/New Zealand next month to represent the country in the biggest One Day International tournament i.e. the World Cup for the first time ever.

Mohammad Nabi, the off spinning all rounder, has been given the charge of the team again.
The Afghan squad is more or less similar to the one which had taken part in the Asia Cup and the World T20 Championship last year.

Though the performance of that side was not anywhere close to what it should have been, the selectors have still put the onus on those same players.

Down Under is not that bad a place to play Cricket for Afghanistan from bowling point of view because their bowlers have got pace and those drop in pitches would assist them, but, their batsmen would probably be found wanting in those conditions.

However, nobody is expecting anything from Afghanistan, not even their own fans. They are being tipped to lose all their pool games. So, the pressure is not there at all and that’s a good thing for a team in a big tournament. The Afghan players can be ruthless without worrying about the result.

The strong teams that are in Afghanistan’s pool are England, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka and they would most probably be finishing in the first four places in the points table.

Afghanistan’s target should be to try and get the 5th position in the pool.

Obviously, there is one more test nation in that Pool A which is Bangladesh, but, Afghanistan has defeated Bangladesh in 50-over Cricket before. So, they should be confident against the Lions.

Apart from Afghanistan, the other associate team in Pool A is Scotland.

Afghanistan’s World Cup journey is going to start on 18th of February in Canberra.

Afghanistan Cricket team to travel to Pakistan after WC 2015

The Afghanistan Cricket team might be travelling to Pakistan after the World Cup for a bilateral One Day International series.

The international cricket has not taken place in Pakistan for a long time.

Considering the danger of the terrorist attack in Pakistan, the cricket boards of the test nations do not want to risk sending their players there.

The Sri Lankan team had become the victim of the terrorist attack when they had travelled to Pakistan back in 2009.

The bullets had been fired on the team bus of Si Lanka and several of their players had got severely injured. Since then, no top flight cricket has been organized in Pakistan.

Pakistan was actually to host a few matches of the last World Cup being a subcontinent nation, but, no team was ready to go there and thus, the International Cricket Council had to shift those matches to India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

The Pakistan Cricket Board officials have recently been saying that the security situation has improved quite a lot in their country and the teams should think about touring again.

They have even officially sent invitation to a few Cricket Boards, but, each one of those boards has turned that down.

But, Afghanistan seems to be ready to provide some help to their neighbours at this tough time.

One of the top officials of the Afghanistan board was quoted as saying yesterday, “We have no hesitation in sending our players to different regions of Pakistan. Pakistan is our neighbour and we want the international cricket to be played there again.”

“We have had a chat with the Pakistan Cricket Board and we have requested for the organization of a One Day International series. If it materializes, it would be good for both the countries.”

Ballance thinks it’s possible to achieve World Cup Squad

Gary Ballance is gutted to be left out of the England One Day International side, but, he doesn’t think it’s impossible for him to get into the World Cup squad.
According to the Yorkshire left-hander, a couple of long series is there and changes might still be made in the side. So, he is very much hopeful.
Ballance’s place in the England test team appears to be certain now with the kind of summer he has had.
He played in the limited-over games as well over the summer, but, he could not convince the management that he was as much suited to it as he was to test cricket.
In the India series, he featured in only one game and that too was a forced change for England as Ian Bell had got injured while practicing.
Ballance batted one down and he was dismissed on a single digit score. He was left out next game.
When asked if he thinks he did enough to warrant a place in the squad for the Sri Lanka tour, this was Ballance’s answer, “Well, I thought I was getting better in the One-day format, but, obviously, the selectors are looking to give opportunities to some other consistent domestic performers and it’s quite fair. People doing well at the county level deserve to be looked at.”
“As far as I am concerned though, I’ve got to keep myself mentally ready for a recall. A lot of games are there between now and February and you don’t know what is to follow. An injury or something and you are in. So, I don’t think I should give up.”
Ballance has played 11 One Day Internationals so far and he averages just a touch over 28 in those.

Smith Makes His Mark

The all rounder of the Australian Cricket team, Steve Smith, made a mark with the ball the other day against Zimbabwe as he got 3 wickets in his 4.1 overs with his part time leg spin.
Smith is crucial to Australia’s plans for the World Cup. He is a gritty middle order batsman who can fight out testing conditions and if he starts doing a bit as a bowler too, he would be a great prospect for the Kangaroos.
Smith was actually a bowler who could bat a bit when he had first broken into the Australian national side. But, over the last 5 years, he has worked more on his batting and his bowling has slowly faded away.
However, now, he has realized that with fierce competition for the spots in the One Day side squad of Australia, he needs to improve his bowling; otherwise, he might well get overlooked for the World Cup.
Smith is an established test match player now for Australia, but, it doesn’t apply to him in One Day Cricket as he is still a work in progress in that format. He has improved as a batsman of late in the sense that he has added some creative shots to his arsenal. He plays lap shots and switch hits with precision, but, with the likes of Glenn Maxwell and other power hitters there, he has found himself out of the side most of the times.
In that game against Zimbabwe, Smith did show that he was still capable of giving the ball a rip and getting spin out of the surface. He has got a real classy, action too. There is no reason why he can’t become a handy leggie especially in limited-over cricket.
Smith has 22 wickets to his name in the One Day Internationals till date.

Gilchrist Shines At Recent Match

People were able to see the glimpses of the old Adam Gilchrist the other day at Lord’s during the match between MCC and the rest of the World XI.

The Australian left hander came to open the innings for the Rest of the World XI. His opening partner was the Indian legend Virender Sehwag.

The crowd greeted both of them with huge cheers as they were making their way onto the ground.

Both Gilchrist and Sehwag started going after the bowlers from the word go as per their nature. The boundaries started flowing.

Gilchrist, in particular, was very aggressive. Anything marginally short outside the off stump, he was pouncing on that. He hit a total of 4 fours in one over of Shaun Tait.

The way Gilchrist was playing, MCC needed something spectacular to get him out and that spectacular bit of bowling was produced by the Pakistani off spinner Saeed Ajmal.

Ajmal bowled his trademark delivery i.e. ‘Doosra’ and got Gilchrist completely bamboozled.

Gilchrist assumed it to be a off spin delivery and thus, he stepped out to loft it inside out over cover, but, rather than going away from him, the ball came into him and went between his bats and pad to the wicketkeeper who was quick to take the bails off.

It might have been only a short innings from Gilchrist, but, it entertained the viewers a lot.

After Gilchrist’s downfall, the ROW’s innings crumbled a little bit and all of a sudden, they were 68 for 5, but, Yuvraj Singh brought them out of that situation with a hundred.

MCC, however, won the match eventually by 7 wickets courtesy a great knock by Aaron Finch.

Finch scored 181 runs with a very high strike rate. He hit 6 sixes and more than 20 fours.

Warner One Of The Most Improved Cricketers

David Warner has been one of the most improved Australian Cricketer in the last one year or so. The hard hitting left hander has scored heaps of runs in all formats of the game all over the world in the recent past.

First, he helped his team Australia regain the Ashes by being ultra consistent in the 5-match return test series played against England last year, then, he went to South Africa and continued batting in the same way there as well. With some great innings played against the destructive South Africa pace battery, he proved himself as one of the best modern day test players.

Warner couldn’t win too many matches for his team in the World T20 Championship 2014 though and that was his only failure in the season.

His last assignment of the season was the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League. He was a part of the Sunrisers squad in that tournament and there he was asked to bat in the middle order which is a tough thing for any opening batsman, but, he accepted that challenge and excelled at his new batting position of number 4.

Not only did he turn out to be the highest run scorer for his franchise eventually, he got himself in the top 5 in the list of the leading run scorers in the tournament as well.

Warner won quite a few matches for the Sunrisers in the second half of IPL 7. His inning in the return match against the Chennai Super Kings was a memorable one. He single handedly got his team two points there and kept them alive in the tournament.

However, despite Warner’s heroics, the Sunrisers couldn’t get into top 4 and finished at the no. 6 position.

Latif Hopes For Afghanistan To Avoid Kenyan Mistakes

The Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif hopes that his team doesn’t go Kenya’s way. Kenya had also taken giant strides in terms of rising in international cricket. They had even reached the semi final round in the 2003 World Cup, but, after that, they faded and today, they don’t even have the right to play One Day matches at the international level. Latif doesn’t want the same thing to happen with Afghanistan as well.

Just about 6 years ago, Afghanistan was one of the 5th division teams. No one would have expected them to develop so quickly to make it to the World Cup 2015, but, they did that and in the recently concluded Asia Cup, they showed that they can even create upsets in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Latif has recently been appointed by the Afghanistan Cricket Board to get the team prepared for the game’s biggest event i.e. the World Cup. He has been working with the players in a camp in Karachi since the last few weeks.

He answered the questions of the reporters regarding Afghanistan’s plans for the upcoming tournament.

When asked how important this tournament is for the Afghans, the former Pakistani wicketkeeper said, “It’s obviously very, very important, but, I would not say its make or break. We will have to make sure that we don’t let our level drop after the tournament.”

When asked if he thinks the Afghans would be able to surprise a few teams during the course of the World Cup, Latif said, “Well yes, this team certainly has the capability. Our aim would be to get better of Bangladesh and the other associate nation, but, on our day, we can test some top teams as well.”

It’s going to be Afghanistan’s first ever appearance in an ODI World Cup.

ON THE UP

The condition of Afghanistan Cricket has improved a lot in the last few years. Not only have they started to win matches on the ground, their financial status has become much better too. Now, the players of the team have central contracts which help them earn more than 2000 Dollars per month.

It’s a very low amount if compared to the earnings of the cricketers of other countries, but, for the Afghan cricketers, it’s a lot of money because about 5 years ago, they were getting virtually nothing to play for the national side.

The Afghanistan team is currently in Bangladesh to take part in the Asia Cup. This will be their maiden appearance in that competition and they are very excited about it. They want to play some good cricket against stronger Asian teams like India and Pakistan and want to show everyone that they have got the potential to become a world class side in future.

Talking to a website about different aspects of Afghan cricket, Mohammad Nabi, the skipper of the team said, “The condition of the game in our country is much better now. Yes, we are not being paid as much as the players of other countries, but, still we are happy because it’s a lot more than what we were getting a few years ago.”

When asked if his parents gave him the permission to pursue career in cricket easily or he had to try hard to convince them, Nabi said, “They didn’t want me to become a professional cricketer and that’s because they were worried about my future. But, I decided to go ahead and I think that wasn’t the wrong decision.”

Nabi has so far played 27 one day international matches for Afghanistan.

NOT READY

The coach of the Afghanistan cricket team, Kabir Khan, doesn’t think that his team is ready to be given the test status.

Afghanistan has performed pretty well in the limited overs matches that they have played of late and the cricket pundits have started wondering if the time has come for them to play the longest form of the game. Some think yes it’s the right time, but, the others think that it might be too early. Kabir falls in that second category.

When asked if he thinks that his team is good enough to start playing test match cricket, Kabir said, “No, I don’t think so. To be ready for test cricket, you need to have a first class set up which we don’t have at the moment. If we are given test status now, I don’t think we would manage to give the top sides a fight. We would look like Bangladesh.”

When asked about Afghanistan’s quality performances in the shorter forms of the game recently, Kabir said, “I am very proud of the way the boys have been performing of late. We have achieved a lot of success this year and that’s because we have played as a unit. We need to keep doing that.”

When asked in which areas he thinks Afghanistan has improved significantly under his guidance, Kabir said, “I think the fielding has improved a lot. We have got some terrific fielders who don’t hesitate in putting their bodies in line.”

“The second thing that has improved is our batting against the spinners. We are handling the spin bowling much better now.”

Kabir Khan had been appointed as the coach of the Afghanistan national cricket team for the second time towards the end of 2011.

IN THE DRAW

The Afghanistan cricket team has made it to the main draw of the World Cup 2015. They did that by securing a fantastic victory over Kenya a few days back.

This achievement of the Afghan team has given a lot of joy to the whole nation. People are extremely happy and a lot of them had gathered at the airport to give their heroes a warm reception when they returned back home on Saturday.

Not only the Afghan people, the members of the Afghan team are pretty happy too and why shouldn’t they be? They have earned a place in the main draw after playing some fantastic cricket and they deserve to be given a lot of credit and respect.

The Afghan skipper Mohammad Nabi talked to the reporters after arriving home and he was looking overwhelmed with the kind of reception that he got. He was probably not expecting it.

Nabi said, “I am the happiest and the proudest person in the world at the moment. It’s a huge achievement for the whole country and I congratulate everyone.”

“We have shown that we have got a lot of cricketing potential and I am sure many more big wins will come in the future.”

When asked how big that game against Kenya was for him, Nabi said, “I would say it was the biggest match of my career. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I scored those winning runs. I was over the moon.”

The coach of the Afghan team, Kabir Khan, was also looking very happy during that press conference. He said, “We want to change people’s thinking about Afghanistan. We are willing to show them that Afghanistan is not about negative things only and this win will help us in that.”