Wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad has sparked a fresh controversy by claiming that he was incorrectly ruled out of the 2019 ICC World Cup due to a knee injury.
The 32-year-old was ruled out for the remainder of the ongoing tournament after playing just two games for Afghanistan before being replaced by young Ikram Ali Khil. However, the opening batsman has now accused the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) of unfairly sending him back home from the World Cup.
“I went to a doctor in London and he drained my knee of some fluids, gave me a pill and said that I could play after resting for two-three days,” Shahzad told the local Afghanistan media on his return to Kabul.
“I had a practice session, bowled, batted, and had a keeping session, had lunch with my team-mates, and then sat down in the team bus (to return to the hotel) only to see the ICC press release on my phone saying I am out of the World Cup.
“That was the moment when I found out that I was unfit. I don’t know what is the problem. If they have a problem, they should let me know. If they don’t want me to play, I will quit cricket.”
The wicketkeeper batsman had retired hurt due to a knee injury in the warm up game against Pakistan but had featured in Afghanistan’s opening two matches in the World Cup before being ruled out of the tournament.
Shahzad has now threatened to quit international cricket altogether in the wake of his World Cup exit.
“I don’t see myself playing anymore. It’s a dream to play the World Cup. I was removed from the 2015 World Cup and now this one as well. I am going to consult with friends and family. My heart isn’t in cricket anymore,” he said.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have responded to Shahzad’s sensational tirade and have insisted that the wicketkeeper was ruled out for fitness reasons.
“It’s absolutely wrong to say that he was unfairly dropped,” ACB chief executive Asadullah Khan was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“We have given a medical report to the ICC to prove that he is unfit, and after thorough deliberation they allowed us to replace him. He is our main batsman, who can make a big difference with the bat, and it was a really difficult decision to drop one of our key players.”
“Now that we are full members, our priority will be on fitness, in international and domestic cricket. We can’t carry unfit players. We understand Shahzad was not fully fit when he still went on to play two games and this is not acceptable anymore.”
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has backed Hashim Amla to come good in the 2019 ICC World Cup even as the opening batsman’s poor form with the bat continued.
Amla was dismissed for just six runs in Monday’s clash against the Windies which was ultimately abandoned due to persistent showers. It continued a poor run of form for the veteran batsman with his previous two innings against England and India yielding just 19 runs combined.
“Hash is a class player,” Faf du Plessis said after the abandoned game at Southampton.
“You know it’s tough on a wicket like that because, when you are opening up the innings, you need a bit of luck to go your way.
“Like most of our batters, it’s just a matter of getting in, and getting those starts converted into runs, because if you can get through the first 10-15 overs, that’s when the scores come.”
South Africa had been reduced to 29-2 with the bat by Windies before the game was ultimately called off. It has left the Proteas with just one point to show for after four matches with their previous three clashes ending in losses.
The South Africans might very well need to win all their remaining five matches if they are to advance the semi-finals of the World Cup but du Plessis is not thinking too far ahead just yet.
“It is too far away. Right now, for us, we need to focus on our performance,” he stated.
“If we can get our performance sorted out, our skills, our confidence back up where it needs to be, and start getting on a roll of two or three games, you can only really look at those things when it comes to the last week of the tournament.
“Right now, for us, we need to focus on our performance. If we can get our performance sorted out, our skills, our confidence back up where it needs to be, and start getting on a roll of two or three games, you can only really look at those things when it comes to the last week of the tournament.”
The Proteas will next face bottom-placed Afghanistan at Cardiff on June 15.
The 2019 World Cup has seen some enthralling matches and a few rain-affected games as well. Two matches have already been washed out – including the South Africa v West Indies match on Monday – and more seem in store given the terrible weather forecast for the coming days.
The UK is expected to receive heavy rains over the week and all World Cup matches lined up for the next three days are expected to be greatly affected. Shared points mean some teams will be denied the full two points, plus no chance to improve their net run rate – which can be a major factor by the end of this month in the qualification race.
Here are the next three fixtures and their corresponding weather forecast:
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka: Tuesday, June 11 in Bristol
There is a 70 per cent chance of rain in Bristol on Tuesday and all through the week.
Australia v Pakistan: Wednesday, June 12 in Taunton
Showers expected in Taunton on Wednesday with chances of precipitation pegged at 60 per cent.
India v New Zealand: Thursday, June 13 in Nottingham
Almost guaranteed rain on Thursday with the met department forecasting 90 per cent chance of rain.
The BBC reported warnings for heavy rains across the UK. According to it, the Met Office has issued warning for rain in south east England “with a month’s rainfall forecast for some areas”.
Warnings have also been issued for east England, north east England and parts of the midlands.