Afghanistan announces squad for one-off Sri Lanka Test

Legendary spinner Rashid Khan is yet to get back to full fitness and is ruled out of the upcoming one-off Test match against Sri Lanka, which is slated to begin on February 2. The 25-year-old underwent a minor surgery following a back injury after the ODI World Cup and has missed key tournaments like the Big Bash League and a three-match T20I series against India.

Meanwhile, in his absence, wrist spinner Qais Ahmad has been called up, who has played just one Test match in his career. Young spinner Zia-ur-Rehman also made it to the 16-member squad along with Noor Ali Zadran, who is set to make his return in the senior squad. He was part of the Afghanistan squad that played the final against India in the Asian Games and scored a half-century against Sri Lanka in the Quarter-final. However, he has not played any cricket ever since.

Uncapped wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Ishaq and right-arm medium-pace bowler Naveed Zadran are part of the squad as well. Naveed particularly has been incredible in domestic cricket as the pacer grabbed 35 wickets in just seven first-class matches, including three five-wicket hauls.

On the other hand, all-rounders Karim Janat and Amir Hamza – who were part of Afghanistan’s Test squad against Bangladesh in 2023, have been left out against Sri Lanka. Batters Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, and Rahmat Shah retained their position in the squad but will have to work hard after their humiliating defeat of 546 runs against the Bangladesh Tigers last summer.

Afghanistan has played only seven Test matches since 2018 and it shows that the team does not have enough experience in the longest format. They will face a strong challenge against Sri Lanka, who would aim to return to winning ways after a series defeat against Pakistan in 2023.

Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah (vc), Bahir Shah, Nasir Jamal, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Ishaq (wk), Qais Ahmad, Zia-ur-Rehman, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Nijat Masood, Mohammad Saleem and Naveed Zadran