The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has announced that former captain Rashid Khan is a doubt ahead of their Test series against Zimbabwe, which begins next Tuesday.
According to the ACB, the leg-spinner is battling a finger injury and is presently undergoing treatment.
“National team’s spin-bowler Rashid Khan is likely to miss first Test match between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe due to a finger injury on his bowling arm,” read a statement from ACB.
“Khan was injured during his stint in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) where he played for Lahore Qalandars Franchise. Meanwhile, Rashid Khan is under treatment by the relevant health officials in UAE and the final call on his inclusion in the first Test will be taken after a reassessment of his injury on 28th February.”
The Afghanistan Test squad for the Zimbabwe series features a host of new faces, with Abdul Malik, Munir Ahmad Kakar, Shahidullah Kamal, Bahir Shah Mohboob, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Saleem Safi and Zia Ur Rahman Akbar all without a Test cap to their names.
Sayed Ahmad Shirzad also has no Test experience, but the medium pacer has featured in two ODIs and four T20Is since his debut in early 2019.
Rashid discusses local cricket and ‘dreams’ of playing for a home crowd
One of Afghanistan’s star cricketers, Rashid Khan, said this week that despite the national team’s success on the international circuit, local cricket would benefit from more academies, more standardized grounds and more qualified coaches.
Speaking to The Cricketer on his rise to fame as one of the world’s best bowlers, Rashid said: “Currently, our cricket relies mainly on natural talent.
“Our cricketers have a lot of skill and natural flair, but the opportunities aren’t always there to go out there and express themselves. We would benefit from more academies, more proper grounds and a greater number of qualified coaches or trainers, so our young cricketers get the right advice on preparing for matches.
“To me, preparation is the key for a sportsman and at the moment some of our cricketers are not able to prepare properly due to a lack of facilities and coaches. Natural talent is a great thing to have, but it can only take you so far,” he said.
He said once facilities and opportunities improve in Afghanistan, the world will see “some fantastic classical batsmen, even more spinners, improved fast-bowlers and better-prepared cricketers coming through”.
“We have so much talent amongst our cricketers and once these areas are improved, there will be a lot more cricketers who are well-prepared for international cricket coming through,” he said.
Rashid also stated that the Afghan national team needs more opportunities to play Test cricket and play against the best teams.
“By playing more Test cricket, our batsmen will realise what improvements are needed by them for five-day cricket, they will learn to be patient, our bowlers will learn the art of bowling in Test cricket and our fielding will definitely improve too.
“It’s all about opportunities and chances to play Test cricket, the more chances we get, the better we will become,” he said.
Regarding the T20 World Cup later this year, Rashid said he thinks the national team will be well prepared for the tournament.
“We are known as being hard-hitting batsmen and I think we have great skills for the 20-over format.
“It will be a great opportunity for our youngsters to show the world what they are capable of and will be a boost for the careers of many of our cricketers,” he said.
According to him, playing in such tournaments is good for Afghanistan as a cricket nation and for the players.
“We are fully prepared and we know we are a very good team in the 20-over format as we have the bowling skills and the big-hitting batsmen. We just need to have the self-belief that we can beat any side as long as we play good cricket,” he said.
He said that at the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup, the Afghan team had a good tournament where they had a few opportunities to win matches but the team’s lack of experience showed in the end and they were not able to finish off matches.
He said “this time around we will go into the tournament as a much more experienced squad. I firmly believe that we will deliver in this tournament.”
Rashid also said it is one of his dreams however to play an international match in Afghanistan in front of a home crowd.
“That’s the dream. You can play all over the world, but playing in front of your own people, in front of your own beautiful crowd, in your own conditions, at your own venues is just something completely different.
“This is the advantage we are missing as we aren’t playing any of our international matches at home.” he said.
“I dream for the day when this happens and it will be a huge achievement when this occurs. It will be a day to remember for the nation of Afghanistan, it’s cricketers and all the people of Afghanistan and I hope that day is not too far away, and I wish that I am a part of that wonderful day.”
Afghan MMA fighter defeats his Russian rival
Hussain Bakhsh Safari, an Afghan mixed martial arts fighter beat his Russian rival in the Eagle Fighting Championship EFC contest on Tuesday night in Moscow.
Safari took on his Russian rival, Oktyabrin Yakovlev on Tuesday evening in a bout that lasted three rounds after judges declared Safari the winner.
Yakovlev has five professional fights to his name, notching two wins and three defeats.
Safari’s latest win marks his fifth victory within the professional MMA free fight circuit and only one defeat.
Afghan swimmer Fahim Anwari sets new national record
Afghan swimmer Fahim Anwari will compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee (ANOC) announced on Monday.
This comes after Anwari, who is currently part of the FINA Development program in Kazan city in Russia, set a new record for Afghanistan at the Russia National Swimming Championships over the after swimmer 50m Butterfly style in 28.79 seconds and 50m Breaststroke style in 31.89 seconds over the weekend.
Anwari is also expected to take part in the 50m freestyle event in Kazan on Friday.
According to ANOC, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has invited Anwari’s to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – making him the first Afghan swimmer to represent his country at this prestigious event.
The main goal of the FINA Development Centre is to create the most favorable conditions for unlocking the potential of athletes representing countries with minor national achievements in swimming, as well as providing opportunities to improve their results in preparation for the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed due to the pandemic but is expected to go ahead this year.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced early this year that he was hoping the Games could take place in July.
Meanwhile, Hussain Bakhsh Safari, an Afghan Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, will enter the ring against his Russian rival Oktyabrin Yakovlev on Tuesday evening in the Russian MMA Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle Fighting Championship.
Safari has five wins and one defeat to his name while Yakovlev has two wins and one defeat.
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