The Afghans put up an impressive show in the World Cup © Getty Images
The Afghans put up an impressive show in the World Cup © Getty Images

Of all nations participating in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Afghanistan’s story was different. For a nation that did not have a well-defined cricket team about a decade ago, Afghanistan rose from the ashes, battling war and economic crisis and obstacles of all sorts to storm their way into the grandest stage of cricket. Abhishek Mukherjee evaluates Afghanistan’s performance in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and analyses their player performances.

All team members of the Afghanistan squad for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 deserve 10 out of 10 for the sheer adversities they were up against when they made it to the tournament. Cricketers of other countries may have had obstacles of their own, but nothing compares to what Afghanistan had to go through to make their way to the tournament.

However, since this exercise involves “grading” cricketers, let us be objective — though, at heart, I have granted everyone a perfect 10.

Samiullah Shenwari (7/10): If Shenwari had done nothing else in the World Cup, he would have etched his name in the history of Afghan cricket following his epic 96 against Scotland at Dunedin. Chasing 211 Afghanistan were left reeling at 97 for seven, but Shenwari played out of his skin, adding 35 for the eighth wicket and 60 more for the ninth before he was dismissed for 96. The last pair saw them through, and Afghanistan registered their first ever win.Top 10 batsmen in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Shenwari had walked out when Afghanistan were three down for three against Bangladesh at Manuka Oval, and managed to score 42. He also scored 38 against Sri Lanka at Dunedin and 54 against New Zealand at Napier, and finished the tournament with 254 runs at 42.33.

Shapoor Zadran (6.5/10): Shapoor, with his imposing frame and sagging mane, had troubled batsmen throughout the World Cup, bowling at brisk pace and making the ball jag at awkward angles. The Scotland match was easily his best performance: not only did he claim four for 38, but his 12 not out (his ODI batting average reads a mere 7.25) was crucial in guiding Afghanistan to a victory.

Shapoor was hammered by David Warner, but eventually finished the tournament with 10 wickets at 26.50 and an economy rate of 5.19. He also remained unbeaten throughout the World Cup, batting five times.  Top 10 bowlers in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Hamid Hassan (6.5/10): Had Hamid been fully fit, Afghanistan may have put up a better fight against the stronger nations. With his face glowing in the characteristic war-paint and the cart wheeling celebration that has attained iconic status (he gets half a point for the celebration itself), Hamid was definitely the fastest of the pack, often leaving batsmen hurried for strokes.

Hamid bowled an excellent first spell against Bangladesh, claimed three for 45 against Sri Lanka, played a crucial cameo against Scotland, and finished the tournament with a difficult spell against England in a losing cause. Eight wickets at 32.62 and an economy rate of 5.11 make impressive reading.

Dawlat Zadran (5/10): Dawlat Zadran returned figures of 10-1-29-3 (and provided support to Shenwari during the chase) against Scotland; he also took a wicket off the first ball against Sri Lanka; but though he claimed Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, they came at the cost of 101 runs. His economy rate read 6.04, but if one takes the Australia performance away, it reads an outstanding 4.74.

Mohammad Nabi (4/10): A lot was expected from Nabi, but the Afghan captain generally disappointed, managing only 90 in the entire series. Almost half these runs came against Bangladesh, where he clobbered a 43-ball 44 in a losing cause. He bowled tidily, especially in the historic match against Scotland, and certainly gets an extra point for inspired leadership.

Javed Ahmadi (4/10): Ahmadi’s tournament was similar to Nabi’s: he could accumulate a mere 97 — but that included a 51-ball 51 in the Scotland match (he was third out when Afghanistan were on 85; they soon became 97 for seven).

Mirwais Ashraf (4/10): The nagging, probing Ashraf removed both Bangladeshi openers at Manuka Oval but his batting did not come off. The second match saw him smash two massive sixes and bowl another economic spell, but he did not play another match.

Asghar Stanikzai (2/10): Stanikzai’s tournament can be summarised into one quality innings — the 57-ball 54 against Sri Lanka. He did little else of note as his first-gear-to-fifth-gear-and-vice-versa approach to batting did not come off.

Shafiqullah Shafiq (2/10): Shafiqullah got a “consolation match” of sorts — in Afghanistan’s last appearance of the World Cup, against England at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Afghanistan scored a mere 111 for seven, in which Shafiqullah top-scored with 30.

Najibullah Zadran (2/10): Najibullah played a few cameos, but his only performance of note came against New Zealand. He walked out with Afghanistan on 59 for six, and hit out for a 56-ball 56 to lift his side to 186. Barring that he did little of note in the tournament — if one discounts that outrageous six off Rangana Herath, that is.

Nawroz Mangal (2/10): Mangal disappointed with the bat to the extent that one almost forgot that he was in the side. He batted at various positions, made a spirited 35-ball 33 against Australia at WACA and couple of 20s, but that was it.

Aftab Alam (2/10): Aftab picked up two for 55 in Afghanistan’s first match against Bangladesh and hit out (almost blindly) later in the day. He was never picked again.

Afsar Zazai (2/10): Zazai was sound, if not spectacular, behind the stumps. He claimed seven catches, and generally impressed everyone. His batting did not come off: a tally of 36 runs from six innings does not speak too highly of him.

Gulbadin Naib (1/10): Naib fell for a golden duck in the only match he played, but deserves a solitary point for dismissing the Scottish captain Preston Mommsen just when he was looking dangerous. After all, not everyone plays a part in a World Cup win!

Usman Ghani (0.5/10): Ghani opened batting twice, scoring 12 and a duck. He could easily have been given a nought, but it can be said in his defence that he played against the two best sides of his group (he was dismissed by Mitchell Johnson and Daniel Vettori).

Nasir Jamal (0.5/10): Like Shafiqullah, Jamal was also given a solitary match — against England. While Shafiqullah top-scored with 30, Jamal, with a patient 52-ball 17, came next.  ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)