Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan. File photo/ AFP
Spin sensation Rashid Khan and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi will spearhead Afghanistan's assault on the World Cup after a 15-man squad was announced on Monday.
Seaming all-rounder Gulbadin Naib will captain the side when they head to England and Wales for the global showpiece which begins on May 30, the Afghanistan Cricket Board said.
Joining the spin attack of Khan and Nabi — who led Afghanistan in their first World Cup four years ago —will be 18-year-old mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Fast bowler Hamid Hasan returns for the first time since 2017 because of fitness issues alongside other frontline quicks Dawlat Zadran and Aftab Alam.
Naib had earlier this month been announced as captain, replacing Asghar Afghan who has still been included in the squad.
Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai, head of the Cricket Board's selection committee, said they had tried to select "a successful, experienced and balanced team.”
While most of the Afghan team are at a training camp in South Africa, the spinners are all warming up for the 50-over World Cup in the Indian Premier League.
Many Afghanistan cricketers learned the game in refugee camps in Pakistan, their families having fled the Soviet invasion in the 1980s.
Since beating the odds to compete at the 2010 World Twenty20 in England, Afghanistan have qualified for all major international tournaments and recorded their first Test victory against Ireland last month.
Afghanistan open their World Cup campaign against Australia in Bristol on June 1 and are regarded as dark horses, having beaten former champions Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup last year as well as forcing a tie with giants India.
Afghanistan squad: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Shahzad Mohammadi, Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hasan, Mujib Ur Rahman
Australia on Monday appointed ex-England bowling coach Troy Cooley for their upcoming Ashes series as they bid to win the urn on away soil for the first time in 18 years.
The Caribbean side scored 311 for six in their 50 overs in Leeds and although the Afghans put up a brave fight, they ultimately went down by 23 runs.
Ball-tamperers Steve Smith and David Warner were on Monday selected for Australia’s World Cup squad, but there was no room for Josh Hazlewood or Peter Handscomb.
All eyes will be on all-rounders Ben Stokes and Jason Holder in Southampton as they will lead their respective teams on the pitch at Ageas Bowl to mark the beginning of this historic series.
International cricket returns on Wednesday following the coronavirus lockdown when England play the first match of their three-Test series against the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, followed by two matches at Old Trafford, in Manchester.
The manager renowned for his own flashpoints and volatility was delighted to see tensions between teammates erupting in public view.