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Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Khalil Gurbaz in Afghanistan squad for one-off Test against Ireland


Wicketkeeper-batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz is in line for a potential Test debut after being named in Afghanistan’s squad for the one-off Test against Ireland, which begins on February 28 in Abu Dhabi. Legspinner Khalil Gurbaz, also uncapped, and who has played only ten first-class matches so far, has broken into the 16-member Test squad too.
Khalil has picked up 40 wickets in those ten games at an average of 28.52 and an economy rate of 3.72. Fast bowler Mohammad Ibrahim was recalled after having been part of the squad for the Bangladesh tour in June last year. Ibrahim, 25, is also uncapped in Test cricket.
Yamin Ahmadzai and Mohammad Salim, who were both part of Afghanistan’s most recent squad for the one-off Test against Sri Lanka, missed out this time because of injuries. Bahir Shah, who averages 60.90 after 40 first-class matches, which includes a solitary Test, though, finds a spot in the side.

“The team underwent a 10-day conditioning camp in Abu Dhabi, which featured 22 players and all the support staff to work with the players, and ensured full preparation for the series,” Ahmad Shah Sulimankhil, ACB’s interim chief selector, said in a statement. “We have thoroughly monitored the proceedings and have picked the squad which includes several new faces who have excelled well during the recent domestic events.”

Mohammad Ishaq, who was the reserve wicketkeeper during the one-off Test against Sri Lanka, and wristspinner Qais Ahmad, who featured in the Colombo Test, were left out. Qais had leaked 98 runs in 22 overs for two wickets at an economy rate of almost 4.50 in Sri Lanka’s first innings.
This will be Afghanistan’s second Test match against Ireland – they had beaten them in March 2019 for their first-ever Test win. Apart from this one-off Test, Afghanistan are scheduled to play five more Tests this year.

“We have quite a good playing history with Ireland. Both countries have played plenty of cricket against each other and have been granted ICC Full Membership at the same time,” ACB CEO Naseeb Khan said. “This will be our second Test against them, and we are eagerly looking forward to what will be an exciting Test match between the two teams.

“We will also be playing Tests against Bangladesh, New Zealand [for the first time] and Zimbabwe later in the year, so we are looking forward to building a formidable line-up for the Test matches ahead.”

Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), Rahmat Shah (vice-capt), Ikram Alikhail (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Abdul Malik, Bahir Shah, Nasir Jamal, Karim Janat, Khalil Gurbaz, Zahir Khan, Zia-Ur-Rehman, Nijat Masood, Ibrahim Abdulrahimzai, Naveed Zadran



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