Afghanistan's bowling attack is arguably the most potent among the Associate nations © Getty Images
Afghanistan’s bowling attack is arguably the most potent among the Associate nations © Getty Images

Debutants Afghanistan didn’t get off to the best of starts in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but they put up a spirited performance against Sri Lanka, who were made to stretch in pursuit of a modest total. Afghanistan’s batting has flattered to deceive but their bowling, which is indubitably Afghanistan’s strength has fired in both matches. Pramod Ananth has more on their talented bowling attack. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: POINTS TABLE

Afghanistan have a plethora of fast bowling options. They have Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran and Hamid Hassan, who are very quick. Dawlat did not feature in the opening game against Bangladesh but bowled extremely well in the next game against Sri Lanka as he got the wicket of Lahiru Thirimanne off the very first ball of the match. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Pool-wise Team Standings

His brother Shapoor has had two good games and a lot will be expected off him through the course of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Shapoor is easily the best fast bowler at their disposal and a One-Day International (ODI) economy rate of well under five, drives home the point. His height always helps him get extra purchase off the wicket that troubles the batsmen more often than not. The left-arm bowler generates good pace as well that is sure to cause the opposition a problem or two and Afghanistan must utilise him smartly so they can reap maximum benefits from him. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: SCHEDULE & MATCH DETAILS

Hamid Hassan is another talented bowler. He became the first Afghanistan player to take 50 wickets in ODIs when he dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne in his team’s previous game against Sri Lanka. He was used as a first change bowler in that game and it worked extremely well as he finished with figures of three for 45. He is their main wicket-taker and is definitely an asset when it comes to keeping the batsmen quiet, which he did very well in the previous game. He had an off day against Bangladesh in the first game of the tournament. But that could be attributed to nerves. After an excellent performance in the game against Sri Lanka, more will be expected off him in the games to follow. Top 10 batsmen in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Afghanistan were dealt a major blow when their medium-pacer Mirwais Ashraf was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining a side strain. Shafiqullah Shafiq has been named his replacement, who is a relatively unknown quantity in international cricket. Ashraf is a very clever bowler and his change of pace sometimes bamboozles the batsman. He will definitely be missed by Afghanistan as the tournament progresses. Ashraf is also handy with the bat down the order. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Complete Coverage

Afghanistan lack quality spinners. Skipper Mohammad Nabi is the only player in their said who can be termed as a “specialist”. His off-spinners have often given the batsmen something to think about. He is extremely handy in the middle-overs. He contains the run-flow, gets through his overs quickly and chips in with a wicket or two every match. Shamiullah Shenwari is a decent leg-spinner as well, but on the tracks in Australia-New Zealand, he doesn’t get enough turn to trouble the batsman. However, if  he manages to bowl to his field and bowl well in tandem with his skipper, he can be extremely dangerous.

Whether Afghanistan win a match in this tournament or not, they will have a lot to take from this experience and with the amount of talent at their disposal, they will only get better with each passing match. Getting this far itself is an achievement for the troubled nation, but what they make out of it is completely in their hands. One can only hope that they take steps in the right direction and come back stronger in tournaments to follow.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)