The rise of Afghanistan cricket has been one of the most heart-warming cricketing stories in recent years.
One of their best moments came when they managed to defeat eventual champions West Indies during the 2016 ICC World T20.
Earlier this year, they showed that they are ready for Test cricket after they beat Ireland by an innings and 172 runs in the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Here are two Afghanistan cricketers you should look out for.
Mohammad Nabi is a name that has been synonymous with Afghanistan cricket over the years. The 32-year-old has a lot of experience behind him, having represented his country in 83 ODIs and 58 T20Is.
Spin bowling is currently one of the big strengths of the Afghanistan team and Nabi is an integral part of that.
An all-rounder, Nabi has a superb record in first-class cricket: 1159 runs at an average of 25.75 and 81 wickets at an average of 22.40 in 30 matches.
A lot of people were surprised when Sunrisers Hyderabad spent INR 4 crore to acquire the services of Rashid Khan at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction earlier this year. They weren’t surprised anymore after watching the 18-year-old perform in the tournament as he bamboozled some of the top batsmen in the world with his bowling.
Everytime I see Rashid Khan, he looks more impressive. Great talent. Has made the step up remarkably— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) 17 May 2017
Rashid is one of the upcoming stars in world cricket and it’s great news for the sport that he will now be able to represent his country in Tests. A leg-spinner, he has remarkable stats when it comes to the ODI and T20I formats.
He has so far played two first-class matches, including one against the England Lions in December 2016 – a game in which he picked up 12 wickets. Also, watch out for some handy contributions with the bat from Rashid.
Test cricket for Ireland is something that has been a long time coming. Their qualification for the Super 8 stage in the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup was a big moment in their cricketing history.
In the two 50-over World Cups after that, they managed to defeat England in 2011 and the West Indies in 2015 which again showed that they can challenge the full member teams.
Here are two Ireland cricketers you should look out for.
Ed Joyce’s experience of having scored over 18000 runs at an average of almost 48 in 250 first-class matches should definitely come in handy for the Irish team.
He is one of the few players to have played for two teams at the international level, having represented England during 2006-07. Since 2011, the left-handed batsman has played for Ireland with distinction.
At the age of 38, Joyce will be keen to make the most out of his time in Test cricket.
Another Irish player who played for England, Boyd Rankin has played one Test which came during the 2013-14 Ashes.
Since then, Rankin has returned to play for Ireland and was part of the team at the ICC World T20 in 2016.
A tall pacer, the 32-year-old has a lot of experience under his belt, having played 99 first-class matches in which he has picked up 319 wickets at an average of 26.64.
Ireland and Afghanistan have attained Test status after they were granted full membership by the International Cricket Council.
The ICC met for its annual conference in London on Thursday and confirmed Ireland and Afghanistan as full members after a unanimous vote.
Ireland have been playing as affiliate members since 1993 and have recorded famous victories over Pakistan, England and the West Indies in that time.
Now they will be able to play Test cricket against the world’s best, with Afghanistan also making the step up having only achieved affiliate membership in 2013.
The ICC confirmed the news on Thursday afternoon, posting on Twitter: “@ACBofficials and @Irelandcricket confirmed as Full Members after a unanimous vote at ICC Full Council meeting.
“Both will now be eligible to play Test cricket following a recommendation that their applications met newly approved member criteria.”
SHIKHAR DHAWAN (INDIA)
The Indian opener looked in complete control as he continued his golden run in ICC events, ending the tournament as the top run-getter with 338 runs.
FAKHAR ZAMAN (PAKISTAN)
The Pakistan opener breathed life into the team’s batting after he was included in the playing eleven against South Africa. His century in the final saw him named the Player of the Match.
TAMIM IQBAL (BANGLADESH)
The Bangladesh batsman notched up two fifties and one ton as he was at his best, scoring 293 runs in four innings.
JOE ROOT (ENGLAND)
The England batsman showed his class once again as he scored 258 runs which included a sublime century against Bangladesh.
VIRAT KOHLI (INDIA)
Kohli scored 258 runs in the tournament which included three half-centuries. He would be disappointed with his performance in the final though as he was dismissed for five during a brilliant spell of bowling by Mohammad Amir.
MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ (PAKISTAN)
The Pakistan all-rounder bowled with purpose and was superb with the bat in the semi-final (31*) and the final (57*).
SARFRAZ AHMED (PAKISTAN) (C, WK)
Sarfraz captained a team that looked to be struggling at the start of the tournament in a calm yet firm manner. He was the force behind Pakistan’s rise to the top.
ADIL RASHID (ENGLAND)
With seven wickets, he was the most successful spinner in the tournament.
MOHAMMAD AMIR (PAKISTAN)
Amir’s three wickets in the final showed why you should always have such a match-winner in your side.
BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR (INDIA)
Bhuvneshwar (seven wickets) swung the ball and was immaculate in every game.
HASAN ALI (PAKISTAN)
The 23-year-old revived Pakistan’s fortunes with the ball. Named the Player of the Tournament after picking up the most wickets (13), his future looks very bright.
12th MAN – BEN STOKES (ENGLAND)
Having scored 184 runs and taken three wickets, Stokes continued to show why he is considered as one of the top cricketers in the world currently.