World Cup 2019: Mohammad Shahzad ruled out of the World Cup, Afghanistan name Ikram Ali Khil as replacement
- Afghanistan's wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad has been ruled out of the World Cup with a knee injury.
This injury comes after Shahzad had hurt his knee during Afghanistan's first warm-up game against Pakistan. Shahzad had retired hurt in that game in order to avoid aggravation. Afghanistan tried to manage his injury as Shahzad was given rest for the team's second warm-up game against England. The wicket-keeper batsman came back for Afghanistan's first two World Cup games against Australia and England, but those appearances only aggravated the already existing injury.
Shahzad's injury has come as a major setback for Afghanistan considering he is the country's leading run scorer in history in ODIs. Afghanistan have also had a bad start to the tournament with two consecutive losses against Australia and Sri Lanka and this injury setback might further reduce Afghanistan's chances of notching up a few upsets in this World Cup. Shahzad is pivotal for Afghanistan considering his aggressive stroke play up at the top. In a fragile Afghanistan batting line up, Shahzad was expected to be one of the leading lights.
Considering this situation, ICC's technical committee approved Afghanistan's request for a replacement. Subsequently, Ikram Ali Khil was named as Shahzad's replacement.
Ali Khil, who was named in Afghanistan's World Cup reserves list, only made his ODI debut against Ireland in March 2019. He was also part of Afghanistan's historic 2017 U-19 Asia Cup winning squad. Ali Khil scored a brilliant 100 against Pakistan in the final as Afghanistan won their first ever U-19 Asia Cup. The young wicket-keeper batsman was also part of the Afghanistan U-19 side that reached the semi-finals of the U-19 World Cup in 2018.
It remains to be seen whether Afghanistan replace Shahzad with their second-choice opener in Noor Ali Zadran or opt for a makeshift combination. Afghanistan will need to quickly find a solution given that it has been their batting that has let them down so far in the World Cup
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