Afghanistan will be making their Lords debut on Tuesday as they take on the MCC in a fifty over match. The MCC have a star studded line-up, with several legends of the cricketing world set to take on the newly appointed Test nation. After witnessing a dramatic Test match between England and South Africa, the Lords crowd are set to be treated to another excellent game of cricket.
The MCC team to face Afghanistan on 11th July at Lords: 1. B. McCullum (C) 2. S.Hain 3. M. Ul-Haq 4. S. Chanderpaul 5. Y. Shah 6. S. Patel 7. C. Read (WK) 8. G. Dockrell 9. C. Rushworth 10. S. Meaker 11. T. Murtagh
It is hard to find a more experienced ODI side than the one selected by the MCC for Tuesday. As is customary for such matches, the MCC have already named their starting XI and it did not disappoint. Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has been named as the home side’s skipper and looked likely he would be opening with Sri Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara. However, Afghanistan’s task has been made easier: a last-minute injury to the left-hander means that Warwickshire youngster Sam Hain has come in to replace him.
Younis Khan was also forced to withdraw form the game, meaning that the MCC middle order is much weaker than they would have liked. Misbah Ul-Haq, who captained Pakistan to a famous Test victory at Lords last year, will anchor the innings at three and will be followed by Chanderpaul. These two batsmen hardly need any introduction, with them being bastions of Test cricket for many years. However, the problems start to arise as we move further down the order to Yasir Shah at five. This is the order that has been officially released by Lords, but it is likely that Shah may drop down the order behind Patel and Read. Yasir is currently averaging less than 20 in ODI cricket and never bats that high for Pakistan. On the other hand, Samit Patel has been in superb form in the County Championship and so it should be the case that Patel moves up ahead of Shah.
Compared to the calibre of their batting line-up, the MCC’s bowling attack is relatively lacking in international experience. Their new ball bowlers are likely to be Surrey’s Stuart Meaker and Tim Murtagh from Ireland. One of the strongest aspects of Afghanistan’s team is their hard hitting opener Mohammad Shahzad, who has earned a reputation of being one of the most explosive batsmen in T20 cricket. Meaker and Murtagh will certainly have their work cut out. After seeing the vicious turn on offer in the recently concluded Test between England and South Africa at Lords, the three MCC spinners will be eagerly awaiting the opportunity to have a bowl. They will be led by Yasir Shah who was man of the match at Lords last year, as he took ten wickets in the first match between England and Pakistan. He will be the biggest threat out of all the bowling options the MCC have.
It will be a momentous occasion for Afghanistan as they head to the home of cricket to cap off what has been a relentless rise to the highest level of cricket. Afghanistan have neither released an official starting XI nor have they actually named an official squad to travel to Lords. However, several sources close to the board have released the names of some players who appear to be in line to make history on Tuesday. Unfortunately, wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad was not among the names released, meaning that there is a chance that the big-hitting opener may not be taking part.
One player who has been confirmed though is captain Asghar Stanikzai. The middle order batsman has been at the forefront of Afghanistan’s rise, but he hasn’t been in that good form recently. With a high score of just 13 in his last five international matches, Stanikzai will be desperate to find form and anchor his side’s innings. With the absence of Shahzad, it is more than likely that Noor Ali Zadran will open up. Zadran has had a reasonably successful career so far and he will be looking to make a mark at Lords.
The main stars set to take part for Afghanistan are their two spinners in Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi. Both players made history as they were bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL auction, and Khan stole the headlines as one of the best players in the tournament. The 18 year old leggie has had an outstanding start to his international career, as he has already taken over 60 wickets in 29 ODIs and has an economy of under four. He recently dismantled the West Indies as well, where he took a marvellous 7/18 in the first ODI between the two sides. Rashid Khan will be a huge threat to the MCC top order, and he has already dismissed McCullum before in the IPL. It will be an intriguing contest between the MCC legends and this fresh young talent.