Among high profile players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, there are a couple of players who have contributed to Afghanistan’s success in the past few years silently, working with low profile, their contribution nonetheless have been as crucial as the others. One of them is HashmatullahShahidi, their Test and One day Internationals (ODI) captain. He has been part of the team for almost a decade and was part of the team which played its first ever Test against India in June 2018. 

After making his First class cricket debut in 2013 as a 19 year old, Shahidi went to make his Afghanistan debut as well, in the same year. In the initial years, he struggled with the consistency, giving only sporadicperformances. The year 2017-18 was his breakthrough year, while playing in domestic competition of Afghanistan (Ahmad Shah Abdali tournament), in Dec 2017, Shahidi made 163 runs for his team Band-e-Amir region. He was a changed batsman post this season, his new found consistency earned him call for afirst ever Test match of Afghanistan against India next year. 

Hashmatullah Shahidi’s Journey So Far

Shahidi carried his new found mojo in limited over cricket format as well, Between August 2018 to September 2018, he made 4 half- centuries in 7 ODI games. Since then, he has been a consistent force in ODI Cricket, last year he was elevated as the captain of the national team. Afghanistan did very well and was in contention till final game they played in the World Cup 2023, in India. While at the end they could not make it to semi-final but it turned out to be a memorable tournament for the team. During the tournament they manifested moments of genius. 

They registered a historic win against England, while Shahidi could make only 14 runs, but he marshaled his spinners very well, choking England’s chase. Two games later Shahidi’s team nailed another big team, this time their geographical neighbors, Pakistan, it was fitting that Shahidi was at the crease when the victory was sealed, he made a quick fire 48 runs off 45 balls. Shahidi also led the team to impressive victories on Sri Lanka and the Netherlands and scored 58* and 56* respectively.

Afghanistan almost looked to seal the semi-final berth with a historic win against Australia before Glenn Maxwell, special hundred ruined their plans. Afghanistan ended their World cup 2023 campaign with a loss against South Africa but made themselves and their countrymen proud with what they achieved. Shahidi himself led from the front and scored 310 runs in 9 matches at an average of 51.67. 

Test Captain

Afghanistan started their Test journey in 2018 but has played only 8 Tests in five and half years. It has been quite a challenge for them to get sufficient opportunity to play Test matches. Shahidi, who has a number of records to his name in short journey, is their Test captain. He is the only batsman who has an average of above 45 in Test matches for Afghanistan; he is also the first double centurion for Afghanistan. 

Huge Responsibility

Hashmatullah Shahidi knows that Afghanistan playsTest on a sporadic basis, in such a scenario it will be a huge responsibility on his shoulders to ensure that the team takes advantage of the opportunity to play their next Test against Ireland. 

He knows that it will be crucial that Afghanistan remains competitive throughout the Test. While Ireland hadn’t good times in Test matches, but they are also keen to impress the international cricket fans. Moreover, with Rashid Khan out with injury the pressure is more on the skipper, especially after they lost their last two Tests by huge margins. 

Batting Style

Hashmatullah Shahidi batting is combination of attacking and defensive strokes, his footwork while playing spinners is exemplary. He though needs to work on his game against pace bowlers, against short balls he had been found wanting on numerous occasions.

Crucial Test vs. Ireland

Whatever the result may be, Shahidi knows that Afghanistan doesn’t get much opportunity to play Tests and hence it would be crucial that they perform well overcoming their previous disastrous Tests against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Image source– ICC handle on Twitter/X


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