Afghanistan National Cricket Team’s left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan and left-arm seamer Sayed Shirzad have been added to the squad for their maiden home Test match against Ireland in Dehradun, India.
The match will kick off on March 15.
Zahir, 20, made his full international debut for Afghanistan in the final ODI of their drawn series against Ireland, returning 2/55, but has been in and around the set-up for a while.
He first represented his country in 2015 in the Intercontinental Cup, taking 7/69 on first-class debut against Papua New Guinea, and was part of the squad that made it to the Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup semi-finals in 2018. His current first-class record is stellar – 34 wickets from seven games at an average of 13.14.
He has also played for Lancashire in England’s T20 Blast, while only injury prevented him from making his IPL debut last season for Rajasthan Royals.
It was injury too that has prevented him from featuring more for Afghanistan recently, with the team management monitoring his progress before adding him to the squad.
Shirzad is more experienced, having played four T20Is and made his ODI debut during the Ireland series. His first-class record is also exceptional – 49 wickets from 15 games at an average of 25.38 – and as a left-armer, he offers Afghanistan a different angle if the pitch looks seamer-friendly.
“Both Zahir Khan and Sayed Shirzad have very good bowling records in first-class cricket and have played in the ICC Intercontinental Cup for Afghanistan,” said chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzi. “We were awaiting Zahir’s fitness report when announcing the initial 14-member Test squad and now that he is fully fit, we have decided to add him to the squad. Sayed Shirzad is added as an additional pacer in the squad to have another bowling option if needed.”