MUMBAI (Reuters) – Afghanistan named fast bowler Hamid Hassan, who last played for the side in July 2016, in their 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup on Monday.
Hassan, 31, has played 32 one-day internationals for the war-torn nation and was also part of Afghanistan’s maiden appearance at the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand four years back.
“Luckily for us, the comeback of senior fast bowler Hamid Hassan is a good news,” Afghanistan chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai said in a statement.
“However, we will take into account his form and fitness during upcoming practice matches.”
Earlier this month, Afghanistan replaced long-serving ODI captain Asghar Afghan with Gulbadin Naib as part of wholesale changes to the team’s leadership structure across formats.
While several senior players questioned the timing of the leadership changes before the May 30-July 14 World Cup, Afghan kept his place in the squad.
The spinners are the biggest strength of Afghanistan, touted as the ‘dark horse’, and they named three specialist world class slow bowlers in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Rashid, 20, is the top-ranked bowler in the shortest Twenty20 format and third in the list of bowlers for the 50-over format.
“It has been a six-month preparation process for the ICC Cricket World Cup,” Ahmadzai said. “The mission is to play inspirational cricket in the tournament; I know there are strong teams but we will do our level best to achieve our goals.
“As chief selector, it is my duty to select a competitive team. However, there were some challenges that we needed to handle. We selected the best squad considering factors such as experience, fitness, team balance, current form and conditions.
“We hope to play great cricket without any fear and with a fighting spirit in the tournament.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Ikram Ali Khil and the pace duo of Karim Janat and Sayed Shirzad were named reserve players for the team, who begin their campaign against Australia on June 1.
Squad: Gulbadin Naib (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (wicketkeeper), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)