Afghanistan's star spinners Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi – who are also IPL regulars for Sunrisers Hyderabad – have echoed their concerns on social media when their national cricket selectors decided to replace Asghar Afghan as the captain of the ODI team. Rashid and Nabi had said that changing the captain of the team just before the World Cup could affect the morale of the team and may cause some uncertainty among the players.
On Tuesday, at the launch of Afghanistan's team jersey, chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai said that Rashid and Nabi were upset with the decision but understood the motive behind changing the captain. He also put to rest any talk of distance created between the players due to the decision, especially between the two spinners and the new captain Gulbadin Naib.
"That comment from Rashid was his personal point of view. He said that it was not the right time to change the captain. But later on, he understood the decision. Nabi tweeted as well that everything is fine after a few days. We have our own discipline committee who looks after this. But on this topic, there is nothing serious we are doing. This debate is now over."
Dawlat added that Naib, who has been assigned the job to lead the team in the World Cup, is not a new name. He has been around the team for 7 years and is an experienced campaigner.
On being asked what prompted the selectors to have a different captain for Afghanistan in different formats, Dawlat said, "We have done split because now the Test captain can focus on Test team and the other formats captains on their own. I think it will work."
Further on the World Cup preparations, the chief selector said that the team has been preparing well for the last six months to play in the English conditions and pitches. He went on to say that the team is eyeing to reach at least the semi-final spot in the ten-nation event. He said, "We have been preparing for the World Cup for the last six months, keeping in mind the conditions in the UK and the pitches that will be offered. We are ready to take part in the tournament and you will see a prepared unit at the World Cup. We are expecting to reach the semis."
"We can beat a few teams in World Cup, looking at the strength in our team. I think we can beat a few Asian teams. We don't have a weak team, they just need streamlining."
In the last few years, Afghanistan's bowling attack has become more spin-heavy and the fast bowlers have taken a back step with the emergence of spinners like Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Dawlat said that it is the popularity of these spinners which has inspired the budding cricketers back home to take up spin but in the coming years, there will be quality fast bowlers on display. "Rashid is an exceptional talent. Mujeeb can use the new ball really well. All the youngsters who are coming up, they look up to Rashid Khan and Mujeeb as inspirations."
It is not that we don't have a fast-bowling culture and in two to three years time, you will see a new crop of fast bowlers coming up. There is a lot of talent in U-19 and domestic circuit," concluded Dawlat.