Another Division 5 veteran, Samiullah Shinwari’s original role as the side’s front-line spinner has been eclipsed by the rise of Rashid, and with Mujeeb coming into the senior team Shinwari’s hat-full of wrist spin variations are rarely seen outside of the nets these days, and the veteran leggie has in fact taken only nine ODI wickets in national colours in the last five years.
Reinventing himself as a hard-hitting if unschooled batting all-rounder, Shinwari carved out a place for himself in the middle order at the 2015 World Cup, with 50s against Ireland and New Zealand and a memorable 96 against Scotland underpinning Afghanistan’s historic, last-ball, maiden World Cup win against Scotland at the tournament.
His form for the national side since then has been in decline, managing just a single half-century against Ireland at Noida in 2017 in the 30-odd matches he has played since. Many observers thought the writing to be on the wall for Shinwari’s ODI career, but the weight of runs he has been scoring in domestic cricket seen to have been enough for at least one more outing on the global stage for the Afghanistan stalwart. Shinwari topped the run tables in the last Ghazi Amanullah Khan Regional One Day Tournament with 398 runs at an average of 79.6 for Speen Ghar with a strike rate over 120.
Whether that’s enough to secure for Shinwari a spot in the Afghan middle order where he has floated about for well over a decade is difficult to judge, with new skipper Naib presumably also dropping in somewhere between numbers 4 and 7, yet given Shinwari’s years of sterling service to the cause of Afghan cricket, few would begrudge him a last hurrah.
Shinwari is a stubborn and unconventional lower-middle-order bat, whose experience and all-round abilities add depth to the Afghan squad.