Afghanistan ICC World Cup 2023 Squad

Afghanistan enters the World Cup as the 9th-ranked team, but their wealth of talent suggests they are well-equipped to spring some significant upsets on any given day.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-10-13

In their third foray into the 50-over World Cup, Afghanistan, a team that's made remarkable strides in international cricket, is setting its sights on securing a spot in the semi-finals. Ranked 9th in the ICC ODI rankings, Afghanistan is captained by Hashmatullah Shahidi for this tournament. Their squad boasts a mix of seasoned veterans, with Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Rahmat Shah, and Najibullah Zadran all earning their places.

Afghanistan's 2023 World Cup Squad

1.    Hashmatullah Shahidi (c)
2.    Rahmanullah Gurbaz
3.    Ibrahim Zadran
4.    Riaz Hassan
5.    Rahmat Shah
6.    Najibullah Zadran
7.    Mohammad Nabi
8.    Ikram Alikhil
9.    Azmatullah Omarzai
10.    Rashid Khan
11.    Mujeeb ur Rahman
12.    Noor Ahmad
13.    Fazalhaq Farooqi
14.    Abdul Rahman
15.    Naveen-ul-Haq

Afghanistan Batting Challenges

Afghanistan's batting order has collectively averaged 32.9 since January 2022. While there have been some remarkable individual performances during this period, there's still significant room for improvement if they aim to secure a semifinal berth. Notably, Afghanistan's opening pair has averaged 43.6 runs per wicket, making them the second-best average among World Cup participating nations, trailing only behind India and on par with Pakistan.

Opening Batters Average and Strike Rate in ODIs since 2022

OPENING BATTERS AVERAGE _ STRIKE RATE.pngHowever, the average for the top three batters stands at 40, ranking them third. The real challenge lies within the middle order, which has averaged a modest 26.1, making them the least impressive among all ten teams. Afghanistan also struggles with acceleration in the format, as evident from their strike rates: 69 in the first 10 overs, 84.5 in the next 30 overs, and 110.8 in the final 10 overs.

Middle Order Batting Average in ODIs since 2022

MIDDLE ORDER (POSITION 4-7) BATTING AVERAGEIN ODIS SINCE 2022.pngTaking a closer look at Afghanistan's batters, only two centurions have emerged since 2022. Ibrahim Zadran stands out, having scored 909 runs in 18 innings, with an impressive average of 56.81, including four centuries and an equal number of half-centuries. His knock of 162 against Sri Lanka in Pallekele stands as the highest individual ODI score by an Afghan batter.

The next best average in the squad is 38.19, held by Rahmat Shah, who has also amassed the second-highest run tally for the team, with 802 runs in 21 innings. Another centurion worth noting is the dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, whose 778 runs and four centuries come at an average of 35.36. However, concerns arise when you delve into the rest of the batting lineup, with averages in the 20s and low 30s, prompting the inclusion of former Indian captain Ajay Jadeja, who joins the team for the World Cup with the aim of providing guidance to the batters.

All-Rounders: Shaping Afghanistan's World Cup Ambitions

Afghanistan, renowned for producing quality spinners, has undergone a transformation in the realm of T20 cricket, turning them into hard-hitting, aggressive batters. The team boasts two spin-bowling all-rounders, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, with Azmatullah Omarzai serving as the quick bowling option. Nabi, the senior statesman of the side and a former captain, has only mustered a solitary half-century since 2022, amassing 336 runs at an average of 24. His saving grace is a commendable strike rate of 97, alongside his 22 wickets from 19 innings.

In contrast, Rashid Khan, still in the early stages of his career, has evolved into a fearsome batter while maintaining his prowess as a spinner. He has accumulated 203 runs at an impressive strike rate of 124.53. However, his batting average of 15.61 falls short of ideal. As one of the team's joint-highest wicket-takers, Rashid boasts 32 scalps at an economy of 4.34. Notably, in the previous edition of the tournament, Rashid struggled, securing just 6 wickets at an alarming average of 69. His figures of 0/110 in nine overs against eventual champions England stand as the worst in World Cup history.

Azmatullah Omarzai, the designated quick bowler, has contributed 135 runs in 7 innings at an average of 27, while also snaring 6 wickets. In the 45 List-A games he's participated in, Omarzai has compiled 853 runs in 35 innings, maintaining a striking rate of over one run per ball. With the ball in hand, he has clinched 35 scalps with an average in the high 30s. In the T20 circuit, his ability to swing the ball at a high pace of over 140 makes him a valuable asset. His inclusion in the squad should alleviate some of the pressure on Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq's shoulders. Farooqi has been the primary pacer for Afghanistan, and Naveen is making a comeback to the ODI side after two years. The 23-year-old Omarzai is expected to feature in Afghanistan's starting XI.

Bowlers: Challenging the Status Quo

Afghanistan's spinners are highly coveted in the world of franchise cricket, but their performance in the longer format hasn't quite lived up to their talent. Since 2022, no Afghanistan bowler has managed to secure a five-wicket haul. Their combined bowling strike rate of 34.2 only fares better than the Netherlands, and it worsens when examining the first powerplay (46.1). The spinners come to life in the middle overs, lowering the strike rate to 40.7, but in the death overs, they manage to claim wickets every 17.2 balls.

Best Bowling Strike Rate in ODIs since 2022

BEST BOWLING STRIKE RATE OVERALL SINCE 2022.pngFazalhaq Farooqi's 18 wickets stand as the third most in the world during the powerplay phase since 2022. Rashid and Nabi, both vital spinners, have captured 21 and 20 wickets, respectively, in the middle overs, with Rashid contributing 11 in the death overs.

There's a pressing need for the pace battery to step up, which is why the selectors have turned to the surprise package, Naveen-ul-Haq, who hasn't featured in a List-A game since 2021. Debuting as a 17-year-old in 2016, Naveen has played seven ODIs, bagging 14 wickets at an average of 25.42. His array of variations makes him a crucial asset in the challenging Indian conditions. Surprisingly, he has announced his ODI retirement after the World Cup.

Most Wickets in Powerplay in ODIs since 2022

MOST WICKETS IN POWERPLAY (1-10) OVERS IN ODIS SINCE 2022.pngFarooqi and Rashid have both collected 32 wickets since 2022, with the next best bowler on the list being Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who has taken 23 wickets. Teenager Noor Ahmad and 21-year-old Abdul Rahman, each with just three ODIs under their belts, have earned spots in the squad. With Rashid, Nabi, and Mujeeb leading the spin attack, it remains intriguing to see which pace bowlers Afghanistan deploys in their playing XI on the Indian pitches as they prepare to face Bangladesh in Dharamsala on October 7.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.