Mohammad Shahzad has been a pivotal member of the Afghanistan top order and was expected to play a big role in the team’s campaign for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, Shahzad sustained a knee injury during the warm-up game against Pakistan in Cardiff and was facing certain fitness issues. After scores of 0 and 7 against Australia and Sri Lanka, Shahzad has ruled out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with a knee injury and the technical committee approved his replacement in Ikram Ali Khil, who has played one Test and three ODIs. However, Shahzad has lashed out at the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and has made a shocking revelation.
“I still don't know why I was ruled unfit when I was fit enough to play. Some people on the board (ACB) have conspired against me. Only manager, doctor and the captain knew that I was going to be replaced. Even the coach (Phil Simmons) found out much later. It was heart-breaking. I had finished my training (ahead of the New Zealand game) and only after I checked my phone, I found out that I have been ruled out of the World Cup due to a knee injury. None of the players in the team bus knew about it and just like me, they were in shock (at the news),” Shahzad told PTI.
The right-hander, who was their star player in the triumphant campaign in the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe where they beat the West Indies twice including in the final. Ahead of the World Cup, Shahzad hit his sixth ODI hundred in a game against Ireland at Belfast on May 21. Shahzad did admit that he faced certain issues regarding his knee.
"I have had knee issues for a while now but it gets fine with a little bit of icing. I took proper rest after the Pakistan warm-up and was fit to play again and I did come back to play the first two games and was looking forward to the New Zealand game until I received the shocking news from my manager. Suddenly I was replaced and I had no inkling of that. This not the way to treat a senior player. Under the current dispensation at ACB, I see more senior players getting a raw deal as I did. I really feel hard done by," Shahzad said.
However, the Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Asadullah Khan said the wicket-keeper batsman was unfit indeed and therefore was unable to give his best on the field. "What he is saying is completely wrong. A proper medical report to the ICC was submitted and then only his replacement was announced. The team could not have fielded an unfit player. I understand he is upset at not being part of World Cup anymore but the team could not have compromised on his fitness," the ACB CEO told PTI.
Afghanistan will next take on South Africa on June 15 in Cardiff. The Proteas are also in danger of not reaching the last four as their game against the West Indies has been affected by rain.