ICC Ranking: 9th
Best performance: Super Eights (2007)
Captain: Mashrafe Mortaza
Coach: Chandika Hathurusingha
Highest ranked bowler: Shakib Al Hasan (6th)
Highest ranked batsman: Mushfiqur Rahim (30th)
Recent ODI form: LLLW –
Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza; Anamul Haque (Wicketkeeper); Arafat Sunny; Mominul Haque; Nasir Hossain; Mahmudullah; Mushfiqur Rahim (Wicketkeeper Batsman); Rubel Hossain (Bowler); Shakib Al Hasan (All-rounder); Sabbir Rahman; Soumya Sarkar; Taskin Ahmed; Tamim Iqbal (Opening batsman); Taijul Islam.
The Grand Stand View
Widely regarded as one of the weaker sides in international cricket, the Bangladesh team will be looking to prove that they have not made the trip to Australasia just to make up the numbers. While most will be doubtful that they will improve on 2007’s Super Eights appearance, the Bangladesh side will be hoping to cause an upset or two, or to at least ensure that they keep their national pride and dignity in tact during the course of the tournament.
Their road to the World Cup leaves little to be desired, though, with losses to Ireland, Pakistan and an Australian XI leading up to their opening game against Afghanistan in Canberra on Wednesday. They will have drawn confidence from the fact that they won that fixture (By 105 runs), but Mortaza and his men will be well aware that the going will get a lot tougher as the tournament progresses.
Their second fixture, which was meant to be against co-hosts Australia in Brisbane, was washed out before a ball was bowled, leaving Bangladesh with a tie against Sri Lanka to focus on. Captain Mortaza, who finished with an impressive 3/20 against Afghanistan, will be hoping he can inspire his teammates against a much stronger Sri Lankan outfit.
ICC Ranking: 12th
Best performance: Debut World Cup Appearance (2015)
Captain: Mohammad Nabi
Coach: Andy Moles
Highest ranked bowler: Mohammad Nabi (21st)
Highest ranked batsman: Mohammad Nabi (59th)
Recent ODI form: WLWLL
Squad: Mohammad Nabi; Afsar Zazai (Wicketkeeper); Gulbadin Naib; Aftab Alam; Asghar Stanikzai; Dawlat Zadran; Javed Ahmadi; Hamid Hassan; Mirwais Ashraf; Najibullah Zadran; Nawroz Mangal; Nasir Jamal; Usman Ghani; Samiullah Shenwari; Shapoor Zadran.
The Grand Stand View
While many cricket fans will consider Afghanistan a mere pawn on the World Cup chess board, a closer eye will rate the Afghans’ appearance as a highly significant achievement. From a country where much animosity and struggle has been documented over the years, the progress of the national cricket team has come to represent that of the nation as a whole, and if the number of fans that made the trip to support their team is anything to go by, then Afghanistan and it’s cricket fraternity are in for an exciting time. Their build up to the tournament hasn’t been the worst, and two defeats from their opening two fixtures have done little to bother the fans, who have brought a buzz and excitement into the tournament.
With this being their debut World Cup appearance, a victory in any of their fixtures might well be enough to send an entire nation into a frenzy, and will certainly contribute to the rapid growth of the sport in Afghanistan. It may well take a few more years before the Afghans have established themselves as a force on the international cricketing stage, but for now, to Andy Moles and his troops, we at GSV say: “welcome to the grand stage, enjoy your stay.”