Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai is expected to experience an appendix surgery and because of that, he will be ruled out for the first couple of matches in the ICC World Cup Qualifier. He took over from his former Afghan skipper Nawroz Mangal and has led the Associate Nation through its golden period.
The emerging Asian side has been placed in a tricky group along with Scotland, Hong Kong, and Nepal, the latter who made history by entering the Qualifiers for the first time in their history. However, ahead of the start of the main qualifier in Zimbabwe, the Afghans will play a warm-up match against the Netherlands on the 1st of March.
Also read: BCCI Provides Afghanistan Team A New Stadium
Nonetheless, this will be a huge blow for the Afghans ahead of the tournament, especially given the fact that the Afghanistan cricket team has been on a purple patch in recent times on the greatest stage of them all. They were particularly impressive as they qualified for the World Cup in 2015 ahead of The Dutch and Scotland.
Rashid might lead Afghanistan in absence of Stanikzai
However, their best moment came in the World T20 2016, wherein they beat the West Indies in the final group game of the tournament despite not being able to go beyond the group stages. The Windies, who incidentally are part of the qualifier as well, went on to win yet another World T20 under their charismatic leader Darren Sammy the same year.
In the absence of Stanikzai, all-rounder Mohammad Nabi seems to be the favorite to lead the side ahead of the likes of Mohammad Shahzad and Rashid Khan. Nabi is quite clearly one of the senior-most players in the side as well, given the fact that he has been successful in domestic T20 tournaments played across the globe in recent times.
Nabi will also find himself a part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad setup in the IPL 2018, something that speaks volumes about his cricketing abilities. In spite of the Stanikzai blow, the Afghans will remain strong favorites in the World Cup qualifiers, especially given the fact that Rashid Khan, their young leg-spinner has been adjudged the best ODI and T20 bowler in the world.