Together with Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi is one of the few Afghan batsmen who might reasonably claim to be a stabilising influence on the batting. Something of a floating presence in the order, having batted as high as 3 or as low as 10, Shahidi has tended to oscillate between number 4 and 5 on the Afghanistan batting card, often swapping around with his skipper whilst Stanikzai was still in charge.
A strong showing in last year’s Asia Cup, where he was the side’s second-highest runscorer, averaging 67 across five innings including a memorable 97 not out against Pakistan suggests the 24-year-old is entirely comfortable on grander stages.
As with many of the younger generation of Afghan batsmen, the 24-year-old left-hander has had the benefit of rather more formal coaching than some of the senior members of the squad, as is reflected in his more studied approach to batting. In 28 innings Shahidi has yet to hit a six in ODIs, preferring to work the ball around for ones and twos or look to thread gaps in the field, though he retains a fondness for the sweep and shows little reluctance to pay spin with a cross bat.
With Naib and Afghan both in the squad travelling to England competition for middle-order spots is likely to be fierce for this tournament at least, but Shahidi’s comparatively conservative approach and preference for cool-headed accumulation offers something the Afghan batting card sorely lacks. As a junior member of the World Cup squad he may start out on the bench, but it’s a long tournament and the young left-hander has time on his side.
Shahidi is an accomplished and technically sound bat, who will likely play a stabilising role in the middle order.