Mujeeb Zadran, the first men’s player born in the 21st century to play international cricket, has been named in Afghanistan’s squad for the Under-19 World Cup. The 16-year old offspinner took 4 for 24 on ODI debut against Ireland on Tuesday and, according to his coach Raees Ahmadzai, had no trouble showing he belonged in the big stage.
“I saw him for the first time in Khost province two-and-a-half years ago,” Ahmadzai said, “And I discussed it with Nawroz Mangal [current head of the selection committee], who was then the captain of the provincial side. At the time, I told Nawroz that guy looks like he must be in in the future if he works more on it. He did very well for the junior side and now in his debut match, four wickets is good for him.”
Afghanistan Under-19s will be captained by another player who has experience in international cricket. Eighteen-year old seamer Naveen-ul-Haq. He played two ODIs against Bangladesh in September 2016 and, although he has not played any senior cricket since then, has been a regular feature in the country’s youth teams.
Adding to the batting firepower is 18-year old Baheer Shah, who made 256 not out which is the second-highest score in the history of first-class cricket. He completed 1000 runs in 11 innings – a rate that is second only to Australian legend Bill Ponsford.
The Under-19 World Cup starts on January 13 in New Zealand with Afghanistan playing Pakistan in the tournament opener in Whangarei.
Afghanistan squad: Naveen-ul-Haq (capt), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mohammad Ibrahim, Baheer Shah, Ikram Ali Khil, Darwish Rasooli, Nisar Wahadat, Tariq Stanikzai, Azmatullah, Waqarullah, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb Zadran, Zahir Khan, Yousuf Zazai, Wafadar
Reserves: Abdul Wasi, Mohammad Sabir and Fazal Haq