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Cricket World Cup Team Preview: Afghanistan can cause stir

| 05.02.2015

Number of previous appearances: 0

Last appearance: Debut

Best finish: N/A

2014 ODI record: Played 14, Won 6, Lost 8

Pool: A

First 3 fixtures: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Scotland

Coach: Andy Moles

Squad: Afsar Zazai (wk), Aftab Alam, Asghar Stanekzai, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Javed Ahmadi, Merwais Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi (capt), Najibullah Zadran, Nasir Jamal, Nawroz Mangal, Samiullah Shinwari, Shapoor Zadran, Usman Ghani.

Top runscorer: Mohammad Nabi. An adaptable number four batsman and economical off spinner, Afghanistan’s captain has been the model of consistency over recent years and was the side’s leading batsman and bowler during the ICC World Cricket League Championship that booked their debut spot at this World Cup

Nabi-5-2-15Top wicket taker: Hamid Hassan. A whippy right arm bowler of some pace, Hassan is Afghanistan’s leading wicket taker in one-day international cricket. He only leads Nabi by four scalps, but what is most impressive is that he’s taken just 24 matches to accumulate them, compared to his skipper’s 45. As a proven source of regular wickets, Hassan will be key if Afghanistan are to cause a shock.

Hassan-5-2-15Magic man: Samiullah Shenwari. Shenwari is a leg-spinning allrounder with the ability to change the game with his blade. His most recent display of that ruthless hitting came in the 2014 Asia Cup, where his 69-ball 81 helped his country seal their first ever ODI win over a Full Member side. That innings (in partnership with Asghar Stankzai) can be watched below.

Pre-tournament storyline: Confidence of a credible run at this tournament should be high considering Afghanistan have featured at two World T20 tournaments, even though they’ve never battled the best at a 50-over event. Ability to adapt to conditions Down Under will be key and four wins in eight on a recent tour against state sides bodes well.

Tournament odds: 500/1

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.