Major Setback: Gujarat Titans star ruled out of the upcoming Test
Afghanistan will be in Sri Lanka next month for an all-format tour consisting of one-off Test, three ODIs and as many T20Is. It will be a historic itinerary for the ever-evolving Afghan side, as they will play Sri Lanka in red-ball cricket for the first time. The two nations have locked horns with each other in the other two formats only.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has announced the squad for the only Test that will kick off this tour. There are several fresh names in the team, nicely blended with experience. Hashmatullah Shahidi, who led the side impressively in the World Cup last year, will be at the helm again, with Rahmat Shah named his deputy.
Chief selector Ahmad Shah Sulimankhil opened up on the thought process behind the selection.
"The team underwent a two-week preparation camp in Nangarhar followed by a 10-day conditioning camp in Abu Dhabi, which featured all the support staff to work with the players and ensure full preparation for the series. We have thoroughly monitored the camps and have picked the squad which includes several new faces who have excelled well during the recent domestic events."
While there is plenty of talent in the bowling department, it will be interesting to see whether they acclimatise to the conditions quickly. Sri Lanka are a formidable unit at home. Hence, a lot will depend on how the Afghan bowlers bowl.
Rashid Khan ruled out of the upcoming Test
The most significant setback for Afghanistan is the absence of their talismanic all-rounder Rashid Khan from the Test squad. Rashid underwent a major back surgery last year and has been out of action for a while since then. His absence has made the bowling unit bleak.
Rashid was also included in the three-match T20I series against India earlier this year and named as the captain of the side. While he travelled with the team, the 25-year-old didn’t feature in any game. Ibrahim Zadran led the side, with Rashid providing inputs from the pavilion.
🚨 SQUAD ALERT 🚨— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) January 29, 2024
AfghanAtalan's Lineup Revealed for the One-Off Test Match against @OfficialSLC, starting this Friday in Colombo! 👇
More 👉: https://t.co/cIxe33OBf5 #AfghanAtalan | #SLvAFG2024 pic.twitter.com/Q7IpR2U2qM
Rashid’s absence will disrupt the balance of the Afghanistan side. Further, he is their best bowling option and would have been lethal in Sri Lanka. The tracks here have always assisted the slow bowlers.
Qais Ahmad has been included in Rashid’s place and might feature in the game. There is no return date for Rashid Khan, who continues to recover. The Test match will start on February 2 in Colombo.