Afghanistan won’t be distracted by Shahzad row, insists Naib

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib insists his side won’t let the row over Mohammad Shahzad’s controversial World Cup exit overshadow the rest of the tournament. Shahzad played in Afghanistan’s first two World Cup matches, but the wicketkeeper-batsman was removed from the squad after suffering a knee injury that the country’s cricket board said would not allow him to play any further part in the tournament.

The 31-year-old, who scored just seven runs in losses to Australia and Sri Lanka, claimed medical advice he had received said he would have been fit to play in a few days after having his knee drained.

“If they don’t want me to play, I will quit cricket,” an emotional Shahzad was reported to have told local media after returning to Kabul.

Asked about the row ahead of Saturday’s clash with South Africa, Naib made it clear he didn’t want to dwell on the situation.

“We looked forward, so we didn’t go to the past. We had one week off. We got plenty of good things in this last week,” Naib told reporters on Friday.

“Obviously we missed Shahzad. We have good youngsters on the team now on the side, so we’re excited for the next game.” With Afghanistan still looking for their first win in this year’s World Cup, Naib said star leg spinner Rashid Khan should be fit to play against South Africa.

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N Krishnamurthy