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Just ahead of Afghanistan’s World Cup squad selection, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) suddenly changed the national team captaincies in all format. While Asghar Afghan was leading the side in every international format, suddenly he has been dropped from that role in every format. However, the present ODI captain Gulbadin Naib has recently claimed that Asghar Afghan is still his leader.
In this April, ACB decided to remove Asghar Afghan from the national team’s captaincy in every format. While Gulbadin Naib has taken over the ODI captaincy, Rahmat Shah and Rashid Khan have taken the Test and T20I captaincy roles respectively. Though the ACB has faced many criticisms from the national players due to these sudden changes, they have stuck to their decision.
Ahead of the pre-World Cup warm-up matches, Naib has claimed that Asghar Afghan is still his captain. The senior cricketer is guiding him at the present moment.
Naib told ICC, “Asghar Afghan is still my captain. We played our last few games against Ireland and Scotland, and he helped me a lot. He guided me. He’s not just another player for me, he’s still my captain right now.
“I want support from him. Not just him, but [Mohammad] Nabi, Rashid [Khan] and all the guys who have a lot of experience. All of us have one goal: we want to play for Afghanistan and play as a team, whoever the captain is.”
I am thrilled to lead the team in front of the whole world – Gulbadin Naib
Afghanistan made its Cricket World Cup debut in the previous edition (2015). The upcoming edition will be their second appearance in Cricket World Cup history.
Naib is excited to lead the national side in the entire 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. While he played only one match in the previous edition, Naib wants to utilise the new opportunity fully.
He said, “I am thrilled to lead the team in front of the whole world. I remember our last appearance in the World Cup in 2015. I just played one game, and I was really excited just to be a part of the squad. Now, the ACB have announced me as the captain for this World Cup. It’s a big opportunity for me.”
In the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Naib played only one game, and that was against Scotland. It was the only game that Afghanistan won in that tournament, but Naib scored a golden duck and took one wicket (1/53) in that match.
I have confidence in my team – Gulbadin Naib
Gulbadin Naib is confident about the present Afghanistan national cricket team who has performed impressively in recent times. Naib has claimed that they will play every match as their first and last game.
He said, “When you look back at the team, we have come a long way. I am not saying we will definitely reach the semi-final of the tournament, but I have confidence in my team. I have told the team to play their natural game in every game irrespective of which team we play. We are taking every fixture as our first and last game. All the boys are excited to represent the country at this stage.”
Naib also feels that they are now the better side with the improved batting and strong spin-bowling options.
He added, “Compared to the last two-three years, we have a much better side now. We have world-class spinners like Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb [Ur Rahman], and in the batting department, we have guys like [Mohammad] Shahzad and Rahmat Shah.”
Afghanistan will begin their upcoming Cricket World Cup journey on 1st June when they will face the defending champions Australia at Bristol.