KABUL: Afghanistan have been plunged into controversy with wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad claiming that he was incorrectly declared unfit and omitted from the World Cup squad. However, the Afghanistan Cricket Board insists that Shahzad was indeed unfit, which is why he has been replaced by Ikram Alikhil. Shahzad, 32, retired hurt during Afghanistan’as warm-up game against Pakistan on May 24, but subsequently played the team’s first two World Cup matches.
He underwent a knee scan during the warm-up match against Pakistan. In the two matches that he did play, he was out for a three-ball duck against Australia, and made 7 off 12 against Sri Lanka. Afghanistan lost both matches. But while Shahzad has reportedly insisted that he was fit, the ACB chief executive, Asadullah Khan, was adamant that there had been no foulplay in dropping the wicketkeeper-batsman. “It’s absolutely wrong to say that he was unfairly dropped,” Asadullah told ESPNcricinfo. “We have given a medical report to the ICC to prove that he is unfit, and after thorough deliberation they allowed us to replace him.” Shahzad, after returning to Afghanistan, launched a broadside against his ouster while speaking with local media, accusing the ACB higher management for the move. “I went to a doctor in London and he drained my knee of some fluids, gave me a pill and said that I could play after resting for two-three days,” Shahzad told media in Kabul. “I had a practice session, bowled, batted, and had a keeping session… had lunch with my team-mates, and then sat down in the team bus only to see the ICC press release on my phone saying I am out of the World Cup,” he explained. “That was the moment when I found out that I was unfit. I asked the manager, who asked me to put the phone in my pocket and talk to the doctor. The doctor looked at me helplessly and said he couldn’t do anything. I don’t know what is the problem. If they have a problem, they should let me know.
If they don’t want me to play, I will quit cricket. “I don’t see myself playing anymore. It’s a dream to play the World Cup. I was removed from the 2015 World Cup [he wasn’t selected for fitness reasons] and now this one as well. I am going to consult with friends and family. My heart isn’t in cricket anymore.” Shahzad is Afghanistan’s highest ODI run-getter, with 2727 runs at an average of 33.66 in 84 games.