Afghanistan are a capable unit going into the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and the presence of two cricketers who have already played senior international cricket is one reason for that.
Captain Naveen-ul-Haq and off-spinner Mujeeb Zadran have experience at the top level and will be among the players to watch in the 16-side event. Zadran became the first 21st-century born male cricketer to play international cricket, taking four for 24 on his ODI debut against Ireland in December 2017, the selection coming on the back of an exceptional show in the Asia Cup where he topped the bowling charts with 20 scalps to help Afghanistan clinch the title.
In fact, Rashid Khan, Afghanistan’s rising star, was also eligible for this edition. The leg-spinner has this accomplishment already, having made his senior debut in October 2015 before playing in the 2016 U19 CWC. Shabir Noori and Najibullah Zadran, members of the 2012 U19 CWC squads, are two other Afghanistan players in this exclusive club.
Naveen-ul-Haq: “Playing for the senior team in the past will definitely help in the U19 World Cup, especially in terms of handling pressure and being able to play more freely.”
Mujeeb Zadran: “It has been a helpful experience (having played senior international cricket) and will obviously help at the Under-19 level. There is obviously more pressure playing at the senior level but it is also great for gaining experience.”
Apart from the Afghanistan pair, Ireland’s Joshua Little has also played international cricket – having turned out in two T20Is for his side.
Players representing the senior national team before playing in the U19 CWCs is not a new phenomenon. India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani went into the inaugural U19 CWC in Australia in 1988 after creating a Test record of 16 for 136 against the Windies.
Pakistan’s Shakeel Khan also played in that tournament. The others from Pakistan to make similar entries include the youngest Test debutant Hasan Raza (1998 and 2000), Abdul Razzaq (1998) and Imran Nazir (2000). This time, spinner Shadab Khan was eligible for selection as per the age criteria.
Bangladesh’s Ranjan Das made his debut in the country’s inaugural Test match against India in November 2000. Mushfiqur Rahim, who made his debut at Lord’s in 2005 – Bangladesh’s first Test at the venue – is the only Test captain in the list.
Enamul Haque (Junior) – the youngest to take 10 or more wickets in a Test when he returned figures of 12 for 200 against Zimbabwe in 2005 at the age of 18 years and 40 days – made his international debut in October 2003 before playing the 2004 U19 CWC at home.
There are three Canadian players in the list and Hong Kong’s Jamie Atkinson has built a strong reputation for himself. Kenya’s Thomas Odoyo made his debut against India in Cuttack in the 1996 World Cup before figuring in the 1998 U19 CWC.
List of players who made their international (Test, ODI, T20I) debut before playing in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup:
Shabir Noori (Afghanistan)
Najibullah Zadran (Afghanistan)
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Malachi Jones (Bermuda)
Kyle Hodsoll (Bermuda)
Ruvindu Gunasekera (Canada)
Hiral Patel (Canada)
Nikhil Dutta (Canada)
Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong)
Irfan Ahmed (Hong Kong)
Thomas Odoyo (Kenya)
Mohammad Sheikh (Kenya)
Ranjan Das (Bangladesh)
Enamul Haque (Jr) (Bangladesh)
Mushfique Rahim (Bangladesh)
Narendra Hirwani (India)
Shakeel Khan (Pakistan)
Hasan Raza (Pakistan)
Abdul Razzaq (Pakistan)
Imran Nazir (Pakistan)