Afghanistasn have won two ODI series against same opposition Zimbabwe prior to T20 tournaments © Getty Images
Afghanistan have the edge over hosts, Scotland and a cracking series is expected between both the nations © Getty Images

Afghanistan will be touring Scotland for two-match One-Day International (ODIs) series against Scotland starting from July 4 at Edinburgh. Both the matches will be held in the same venue. Afghanistan are coming stronger against Scotland after their recent win against Namibia with their skipper Mohammad Shahzad taking his side to victory by an innings with his knock of 139 in the Intercontinental Cup at Greater Noida. In hindsight, Scotland’s ODI is the ongoing tournament of ICC World Cricket League Championship at UAE. Afghanistan have seen a raise in their standard of cricket while Scotland are still finding their chance to strike some luck in the ODIs. This could be the moment for the team to come stronger and revive in the shorter format.

Afghanistan’s ODI journey and Team analysis:

Since 2014, Afghanistan have changed their fortunes massively. They achieved their first ODI win clinching the Asian Cricket Council Premier League that included Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman and UAE. It was a cake walk for Afghanistan after achieving four wins from fifteen matches held. Their winning streak continued in 2015 and early 2016 winning two ODI series against Zimbabwe — one away and the other at home. They had remarkable moment in Twenty20 International (T20I) as well  by progressing to the Super 10 in ICC T20 World Cup 2016, although they were unable to make it to the knockouts.

Afghanistan have included Javed Ahmadi and all-rounder Rahmat Shah. Ahmadi’s last ODI was against England during the 2015 World Cup, while Rahmat has not played in the format since July 2014. The squad also includes medium-pacer Mirwais Ashraf and fast bowler Yamin Ahmadzai, who were part of the limited-overs series against Zimbabwe in the UAE in December-January. Asghar Stanikza will be leading the side against Scotland. ALSO READ: ICC steps in to solve racism issues between Namibia and Afghanistan

Ihsanullah has scored 294 runs in 12 Youth ODIs and all his appearances have come in the Under-19 World Cup. His return in the 2016 edition of the tournament was complete opposite securing just 119 runs in six games at an average of 19.83. Ashraf is also part of the squad along with former Under-19 captain Nasir Jamal. Jamal’s last international appearance was also in the 2015 World Cup game against England.

Bowling is another unit they have been at par and will want to get better as they face Scotland. Samiullah Shenwari managed to grab just 2 wickets when they played the away series whereas playing at UAE, he did not get any scalp to his name. He can still add runs with the bat he he did in the poll match against Scotland where he score 96. Amir Hamza is another big name in the bowling unit who was at top with 9 wickets away from home and 11 wickets at UAE in total. Dawlat Zadran also plays a crucial role in grabbing wickets at regular intervals. With 8 and 11 wickets respectively in both ODI series against Zimbabwe, he could be a dangerous bowler for Afghanistan.

Scotland ODI journey and Team analysis:

Since Scotland have started off the ODI campaign in 1999, they have managed to taste victory of ODI series just once against England in a single ODI match held at Aberdeen in 2014. Scotland have not received much  success in this format with the limited opportunities that have got.

Preston Mommsen will lead the squad with Kyle Coetzer as his deputy while Brad Wheal, who made his debut against Hong Kong in January, returns to the squad. Craig Wallace, who made a name for himself with an impressive showing in the Cricket Scotland Pro series is another batsman to look out for. The uncapped Ruaidhri Smith, who plays for Glamorgan, has also been included in the squad. From the squad which took part in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India, a total of 10 players have been retained by the selectors.

In the bowling department, a lot depends on Berrington, as his strength lies in his bowling skills that have kept him progressing for Scotland. He made his debut in 2013 ODI and T20I series against Afghanistan and grabbed two wickets each against the opponent. His best ODI performance for Scotland came against Kenya in June 2013 when he picked four wickets giving away 43 runs. If the batting gets going for Scotland, the game can be in hand of the hosts.

In the head-to-head ODI record between these teams, Afghanistan lie way ahead than Scotland with 6 wins and 3 losses out of 9 matches played. Their memorable outing in ICC World Cup 2015 with Afghanistan winning by a wicket with three balls to spare was surely nail-biting. This time a similar situation will be expected.

Scotland squad: Preston Mommsen (c), Kyle Coetzer, Alasdair Evans, Brad Wheal, Calum MacLeod, Con de Lange, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt, Matthew Cross, Michael Leask, Richie Berrington, Safyaan Sharif, Ruaidhri Smith.

Afghanistan squad: Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Asghar Stanikzai (c), Rahmat Shah, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Mirwais Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Amir Hamza, Yamin Ahmadzai, Nasir Jamal, Imran Janat, Afsar Zazai

Time: 15:15 IST | 09:45 GMT

(Shruti Hariharan is Content Writer with CricketCountry. You can follow her on Twitter at @Shruti_2890)