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Asghar removed, Rashid slams move

Star spinner calls ACB’s decision ‘irresponsible’; Nabi too questions timing of the change

By Our Bureau and Agencies in Calcutta and Kabul
  • Published 6.04.19, 4:05 AM
  • Updated 6.04.19, 4:05 AM
  • 2 mins read
Asghar Afghan Picture by PTI

Afghanistan replaced long-serving one-day International captain Asghar Afghan with Gulbadin Naib on Friday, less than two months before this year’s 50-over World Cup in England and Wales, but some of the senior have openly criticised the move.

In wholesale changes to the leadership structure, all-rounder Rahmat Shah was appointed Test captain replacing Afghan, while star leg-spinner Rashid Khan was put in charge of the T20 International team.

Rashid, who was also named the vice-captain for the 50-over format, was vocal in his criticism and called the decision to oust Afghan “irresponsible”.

“With all the respect to the Selection Committee, I strongly disagree with the decision as it is irresponsible & bias. As we have @cricketworldcup in front of us, Captain #MAsgharAfghan should remain as our team Captain. His captaincy is highly instrumental for team success,” tweeted Rashid.

“With just months to go for such a mega event like World Cup, changing the captain will cause uncertainty and also team morale will be affected,” he added.

Afghan, 31, took over the team’s captaincy in 2015 after Mohammed Nabi stepped down following the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Under his leadership, the war-torn South Asian country gained full membership status from the governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), and also qualified for the 2019 World Cup.

The news did not go down well with Afghan’s predecessor Nabi as well, who took to Twitter to question the timing of the change.

“Being a senior member of the side & having seen the rise of Afghanistan cricket @ashrafghani I don't think it's the right time to change the captain before the WC @afgexecutive. The team has gelled really well under #Asghar & personally feel he is the right man to lead us,” he wrote.

The 28-year-old Naib, who bowls seam and bats in the middle order, has played 52 ODIs for Afghanistan since making his debut in 2011.

Afghanistan’s chief selector Dawalt Ahmadzai backed Naib to continue Afghan’s legacy and said he was the right choice to lead the team at the World Cup.

“Asghar Afghan who captained team Afghanistan for a period of around four years achieved a lot and made the country proud,” Ahmadzai said in a statement on the Afghan Cricket Board’s (ACB) website.

“I hope Gulbadin Naib will be able to continue his legacy at the helm of the team’s affairs.”

Ahmadzai further added: “Naib is a senior player who has also led the Mis-e-Ainak regional team on many occasions and we hope that he will play a vital role in the team’s future success.”

Naib, on his part, thanked the selection committee for having confidence in him.

“It is a major responsibility to lead the national team. I assure everyone that I would give my best to continue the team’s success.

“I am confident that with the talented team that we have, we will continue to achieve more feats.”

Shafiqullah Shafaq has been appointed as vice-captain of the T20I team, while Hashmatullah will be Rahmat’s deputy in Tests.

The ACB selection committee also announced a 23-member squad, who left for South Africa on Friday for a training camp as part of their preparation for the upcoming World Cup. The squad will play six practice matches in South Africa.

After the training camp, the players will undergo fitness tests before the final 15-member squad for the mega event is selected.

Afghanistan will tour Scotland and Ireland next month to prepare for the World Cup and will also play an ODI each against Pakistan and England before kicking off their campaign against Australia on June 1.