World Cup 2019: Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad alleges favoritism in squad selection
Three days ago, Shahzad was ruled out of the World Cup due to a knee injury. He had to retire hurt after hurting his knee during Afghanistan's first warm-up match against Pakistan. As a result, Shahzad was advised to rest for a short period of time.
Since there was enough time left for the team's first World Cup match on May 30, the Afghanistan team management sounded confident that the important wicket-keeper batsmen will be available for their opening fixture. And that turned out to be true as Shahzad came back for the match against Australia on 1st June. He played in the team's second loss against Sri Lanka also. But suddenly a couple of days before the team's third match against New Zealand, Shahzad was ruled out of the World Cup and 18-year-old Ikram Ali Khil was named as his replacement.
Earlier, in the day, senior Afghan journalist Ibrahim Momand created some buzz by tweeting that Shahzad had emailed a voice clip to Afghan media alleging that he was pulled out of the country's World Cup campaign due to favoritism.
While that video wasn't accessible, Shahzad landed in Kabul and spoke to a popular Afghan channel about the issue. He alleged that the Afghanistan Cricket Board officials favored some select set of players for the World Cup. Here is Shahzad's interview with Afghan channel Tolo News.
Furthermore, Shahzad said that he got to know about his imminent departure from England only after reading ICC social media pages. He added that the team's doctor and manager told him that the reason for replacing him will be disclosed privately.
Shahzad further alleged that ex-captain Asghar Afghan is fit but the team have dropped him due to a non-existent injury. He also claimed that Gulbadin Naib, the captain, was the reason for him returning back to Afghanistan and that Naib criticised him for his poor keeping and footwork.
Shahzad then opined that Gulbadin became arrogant after becoming captain. He also complained about his non-inclusion in the 2015 World Cup squad on account of being overweight.
This sensational accusation comes on the back of a surprising captaincy change during the month of April. Asghar Afghan who had led the side since the 2015 ICC World Cup was removed in favour of Gulbadin Naib two months before the World Cup. Star players Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan immediately criticised the decision and lent their support to ex-captain Afghan. Last month, Shahzad himself made an Instagram post in support of Afghan.
"Please don't tell me I know my captain," Shahzad replied under the above post after Afghanistan fans criticised him of creating controversy ahead of the World Cup. Fans also asked him to put this issue behind him and lend support to new skipper Gulbadin Nain for the sake of the team.
One wonders how the Afghanistan Cricket Board and also the team management will react to this huge allegation. If proved to be true, such controversy and politics might affect this rising cricketing country. It is especially sad that this issue has come out during the middle of Afghanistan's World Cup campaign.
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