Afghanistan have made rapid strides in international cricket which culminated in them registering their first Test win earlier this year. They have also produced a genuine international star in Rashid Khan. But the World Cup squad that has been picked by the country's selectors contains another notable name – Hamid Hassan.
Who is he?
For those of you who remember the 2010 World T20 event in the Caribbean, it was there that Afghanistan made their entry into cricket's big league. Their very first match was against India where the men-in-blue strolled to an easy win. The Afghans played one more game in the tournament, against South Africa.
The cricketer who impressed most in these two matches was a skiddy fast bowler – the same Hamid Hassan. In fact, the match against South Africa saw the pacer getting figures of 3/21 in his four overs. What impressed everyone was his speed, which even hurried some of the Proteas batters.
As we saw more of Hassan, it became clear that he was someone special. The right-arm pacer didn't just generate speeds of over 140 kmph but also had the demeanour of a fast bowler. He used to don a bandana with the colours of the Afghan flag on it, something that added to his unique appeal.
While he was trying his best for his nation, he expressed a desire very early on in his international career that is yet to be fulfilled – playing in the IPL. And frankly, if you would have had to bet on anyone from Afghanistan playing in the world's biggest T20 league, in the first part of this decade, it would have been him. For one thing, unlike other seamers that the country produced – the likes of Dawlat Zadran – he was the only one capable of generating genuine pace.
But then things took an unexpected turn for the emerging cricket nation. Contrary to what was expected, that his country would produce quality fast bowlers since the Pathans across the Durand line in Pakistan also excelled in this art, it became a hotbed of spinners specializing in T20 cricket.
Rashid Khan emerged as the first genuine superstar of Afghan cricket and took the leagues of the shortest format across the world by storm. Hassan himself lost his place in the national team and has been out of international cricket since 2016.
But, the tall pacer has got another opportunity to make a name for himself and that too in the biggest ODI tournament in the world. If he delivers genuine pace again and rattles a few batsmen, not only would he help his team immensely, but may even realise his dream of playing in the IPL.