AFGHANISTAN have named two 16-member squads for their white-ball cricket tour of Zimbabwe, which begins on June 4.
Afghanistan have called up left-arm spinner Zia-ur-Rehman Akbar and dropped senior allrounder Gulbadin Naib for the upcoming three-match ODI series in Zimbabwe.
The two teams will first play three ODIs, which form a part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. Afghanistan are currently fifth on the CWCSL table with 70 points, while Zimbabwe are 12th with just 35 points.
The ODI series will be followed by three T20Is, beginning June 11. All matches will be played at the Harare Sports Club.
Twenty-four-year-old Zia-ur-Rahman Akbar, who was the leading wicket-taker in the Green Afghanistan One-Day Cup, has got his maiden call-up. The left-arm spinner picked up 14 wickets in the tournament in just five matches in his team Hindukush Strikers’ winning campaign.
All-rounder Gulbadin Naib, who was a part of the Afghanistan squad that played the ODI series against Bangladesh in February this year, has been left out. Left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad and medium-pacer Nijat Masoud have been named as reserves.
Missing from the T20I list is off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who is named in the ODI squad and was a part of the T20Is against Bangladesh. Joining him is 21-year-old leg-spinner Qais Ahmad. They have been replaced by Noor Ahmad and right-handed batter Ihsanullah Janat.
Left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan and the left-arm fast bowler Sayed Ahmad Shirzad are the reserves.
Zia was the leading wicket-taker at the recent Green Afghanistan One-Day Cup, the domestic 50-over tournament, where he picked up 14 wickets at an average of 12 for Hindukush Strikers.
Former Afghanistan captain Naib, who last played internationally in the third ODI against Bangladesh in late February, has averaged just 13.75 with the bat and picked up only two wickets in the last ten ODIs he’s played. He was also dropped from the T20I squad to Bangladesh earlier this year.
Afghanistan are set to fly to Zimbabwe later this week. The ODI series will be part of the World Cup Super League. Afghanistan are currently at No. 5 with seven wins in nine games, while Zimbabwe are in 12th position with three wins in 12 games.
Afghanistan last played a white-ball series against Bangladesh in February-March earlier this year, losing the ODIs 2-1 in ODIs and drawing the T20I series 1-1.
Afghanistan ODI squad
Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmat Shah (vc), Azmatullah Omarzai, Farid Malik, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Ibrahim Zadran, Ikram Alikhail (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Mujib ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rashid Khan, Riaz Hassan, Shahidullah Kamal, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zia ur Rahman Akbar
Reserves: Noor Ahmad, Nijat Masoud
Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran (vc), Afsar Zazai (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Darwish Rasooli, Farid Ahmad Malik, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Hazratullah Zazai, Ihsanullah Janat, Karim Janat, Nijat Masoud, Noor Ahmad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rashid Khan, Sharafuddin Ashraf and Usman Ghani
Reserves: Zahir Khan, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad
June 4 – 1st ODI, Harare Sports Club, Harare
June 6 – 2nd ODI, Harare Sports Club, Harare
June 9 – 3rd ODI, Harare Sports Club, Harare
June 11 – 1st T20I, Harare Sports Club, Harare
June 12 – 2nd T20I, Harare Sports Club, Harare
June 14 – 3rd T20I, Harare Sports Club, Harare – ICC.cricket.com