A senior statesman in the squad, and a surprise pick for some, veteran middle-order bat Noor Ali Zadran returns for the World Cup campaign after a time struggling to maintain a spot in the side. Seemingly reconciled to the ACB after posting an incendiary YouTube video denouncing his and Shapoor Zadran’s omission from the APL draft, Noor Ali nonetheless is likely to play as important a role in the dressing room as on the field.
His ODI form heading into the tournament can only be described as dire, having failed to reach double figures in his last five outings for Afghanistan, and his sole ODI century is almost a decade in the past, coming against Canada in 2010. Two solid series in Zimbabwe back in 2015, when he scored four half-centuries in five innings, kept him in consideration for the national set-up, but he has since reached the milestone only once in 18 attempts and he will likely reclaim his old spot opening the batting only if the combination of Shahzad and Zazai proves too unstable.
Nonetheless in a side in a state of flux and having just undergone a controversial change in leadership, having a seasoned campaigner such as Zadran in the camp may yet prove valuable. Zadran is one of six members of this squad to have been present at the outset of Afghanistan’s journey through the Divisions of the World Cricket League as part of the side that won Division 5 in Jersey back in 2008, and in fact Zadran’s international career reaches back further still, having graduated from the youth system in 2006 to debut for the senior side against Saudi Arabia at the 2006 Middle East Cup.
His form in domestic List A cricket has also been solid for Mis Ainak, averaging 46.5 from the top of the order this season, and with young Hazratullah looking exciting but still untested, Afghanistan may yet be glad they brought a back-up opener of Noor Ali’s experience to England.
Noor Ali is a seasoned campaigner and experienced opening batsman, whose role behind the scenes may be as important as on the field.