One of the busiest cricketers in contemporary cricket, Rashid Khan plays a plethora of T20 leagues around the world, and is generally available for almost all international matches for Afghanistan to boot. Of late, however, he had to miss several key matches for his national side.
Afghanistan recently played a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, where Rashid missed the first two matches. He had apparently flown to Sri Lanka right after the conclusion of the IPL Final in the early hours of May 30, but he was rested for the first ODIs on June 2 and June 4 due to a lower back problem.
Rashid missing games for his country is rare. In fact, these were the first ODIs he had missed since May 2019, before that year’s World Cup in India. And now he is slated to miss the one-off Test against Bangladesh in Mirpur.
Rashid has featured in five of the six Test matches that Afghanistan have played so far. The only Test he missed was the first game of the two-Test series against Zimbabwe in 2021.
Why will Rashid Khan miss the Bangladesh Test despite playing the 3rd ODI against Sri Lanka?
Rashid has been rested from the Test match with an eye on his long-term fitness. The Afghanistan Cricket Board tweeted a statement: “Although he made a comeback in the series decider today (June 7), the team management & medical team have decided to prioritize his long-term fitness.”
The statement assured the readers of his fitness: “Despite being fit, our selectors believe it is crucial not to rush his return. They have taken a cautious approach to ensure he receives adequate rest and rehabilitation allowing him to regain full fitness before the upcoming BCBtigers series, the ACC Asia Cup & the ICC CWC 2023.”
Afghanistan’s Cricket Ace @rashidkhan_19 recently missed 2 ODIs against @OfficialSLC due to an injury. Although he made a comeback in the series decider today, the team management & medical team have decided to prioritize his long-term fitness. 1/3#AfghanAtalan | #BANvAFG2023 pic.twitter.com/haRfHxtfzK
— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) June 7, 2023
How big a miss will Rashid be?
Afghanistan won their only Test match in Bangladesh, at Chattogram in 2019, by 224 runs. Rashid, captain of Afghanistan in the Test match, played a massive role in that game, making 51 and 24 and picking up 5-55 and 6-49 to pick up the Player of the Match award.
Not surprisingly, Rashid is Afghanistan’s leading wicket-taker across formats as well as in Test matches. In five Tests, he has taken 34 wickets at an average of 22.35. No other Afghan bowler has taken more than 20 Test wickets. He will be a big miss for Afghanistan in Mirpur.
Afghanistan squad for the Bangladesh Test
While Rashid’s absence is a major blow, this also presents others in the Afghanistan squad with an opportunity as they will look to test out their bench strength.
Afghanistan squad for Bangladesh Test match: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmat Shah (vc), Afsar Zazai (wk), Ikram Alikhil, Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, Bahir Shah, Nasir Jamal, Karim Janat, Zahir Khan, Izharulhaq Naveed, Amir Hamza, Ibrahim Abdulrahimzai, Yamin Ahmadzai, Nijat Masood. Reserves: Noor Ali Zadran, Zia-ur-Rehman, Azmatullah Omarzai and Sayed Shirzad.