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Young guns blazing

Patriot takes a look at some of the young players who could make their mark in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in England

The ICC cricket World Cup is the biggest prize in all of international cricket and any cricketer would love to get a shot at it. With the huge viewership of the tournament, a breakthrough performance by any youngster in the tournament will shoot them to the peaks of fame and stardom – like Wasim Akram in the 1992 World Cup or Virat Kohli in 2011.

Here, we take a look at a few youngsters who are playing their first World Cup this time around, who have the ability to turn things around for their team and shine in this year’s tournament in England.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Barely out of his teens, Rashid Khan is already one of the most feared bowlers in the world in limited overs cricket. In fact, even though he hails from a lower ranked country like Afghanistan, he is currently ranked no. 3 in the ICC ODI rankings.

What makes Rashid Khan such a special player is his maturity to deal with match situations despite his age. Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons has described Rashid as a 20- year-old with the mind of a 30-year-old with respect to the maturity he shows. In their match vs Sri Lanka, the way he kept the batsmen in check with his bamboozling deliveries was so enjoyable to watch.

Rashid is already a star around the globe thanks to his impressive performances in the different T20 leagues, and he is coming into the World Cup after a great run of form for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan)

Adding strength to the already formidable Afghan spin attack, 18-year old Mujeeb ur Rahman has been casting a spell on batsmen all over the world with his deceptive left-arm spin. He adds variety to a strong Afghan spin attack – consisting of a leg spinner Rashid Khan and a right-arm spinner Mohammed Nabi.

Mujeeb already has 52 wickets from 31 ODIs at a miserly economy rate of 3.89 and a strike rate of 32.1. This also includes a five- wicket haul vs Zimbabwe. Adding to his international achievements, Mujeeb is also a regular feature in all the T20 leagues around the world. All this, just at the age of 18. In fact, he was the first male cricketer born in the 21st century to play an international match.

His unorthodox and deceptive bowling coupled with the fact that he is playing for one of the most exciting sides in world cricket definitely makes him a player to watch out for.

Mohammad Hasnain (Pakistan)

At just 19 years, Hasnain is the latest young pace sensation to come out of Pakistan. Though he has not had a great start to his international career, what has drawn attention to the youngster is his raw pace.

The right arm quickie consistently clocks over 145+ miles an hour, and has the ability to swing the new ball both ways. His performances in the domestic circuit has been good and he has even got the backing of Pakistan chief selector Inzamam ul Haq.  But the biggest backing for Hasnain has come from legendary fast bowler Waqar Younis, who said that his bowling reminds him of his own younger days. If the Pakistani legend himself approves, then this is a player to definitely watch out for.

Shaheen Afridi (Pakistan)

Another pacer from Pakistan, 19-year-old Shaheen Afridi’s rise to playing international cricket is a story in itself. He was born and raised in the northwestern part of Pakistan, in a family hailing from the insurgency troubled Federal Administered Tribal Area of the country. From playing cricket in one of these tribal camps, he suddenly burst onto the scene in his first class debut when he took record figures of 8/39, the highest by anyone on first class debut.

The 6’6” baby-faced left-arm fast bowler has caught the imagination of all cricket fans especially after his under-19 World Cup performance in 2018 and his performance in international cricket since his debut. The way he hits the deck, and maintains pace while controlling line and length, Afridi may be the bowler to look forward to in the Pakistan line up in the future.

Shadab Khan (Pakistan)

The third player on this list from Pakistan, Shadab is already a mainstay in the national side. A frontline spinner, he can turn the ball a mile, especially with his googlies, and can be extremely handy in wet English conditions.

The 20-year-old also operates at a very economical rate, and does not give away runs easily. What is more handy is that he can come lower down the order and tonk the ball into the stands. In two years since his international debut, he has displaced the once irreplaceable Yasir Khan as their top spinner. Shadab was also part of the 2017 Champions’ trophy winning squad in E.ngland, so he also has experience in English conditions

Oshane Thomas (West Indies)

Once known for their formidable pace bowling attack, the West Indies’ pace bowling line up in recent years has been average at best. In 22-year-old Oshane Thomas, West Indies have again found a tall well- built paceman like in the older days.

Thomas is now part of the bet pace bowling West Indian outfit since the Walsh-Ambrose days, and he can run in with quick balls, over 150 clicks. He also does not shy away from bowling scary bouncers to the batsmen. In fact, right at the opening match of the World Cup, he troubled the Pakistani batsmen with his vicious pace, and courtesy his four-wicket haul, the men in green crumbled for 135.

Thomas, with his raw pace, may be the star of the Windies in their resurgence in this World Cup.

Shimron Hetmeyer

(West Indies)

22-year-old Shimron Hetmeyer rose to fame when he captained the West Indies under-19 side to World Cup glory in 2016.

Since his senior debut in 2017, Hetmeyer has played 26 ODIs and scored 904 runs, at an average of 41 and a strike rate of over a 110. Mirroring the modern style of Carribean batting, Hetmeyer has the capability to hit the long ball out of the park, and can also play that crucial big innings. In just 26 games, the lad has four hundreds, and will be looking to emulate his junior World Cup success with his first stint in this year’s tournament.

Mehidy Hasan (Bangladesh)

In Mehidy Hasan, Bangladesh have a genuine all-rounder in their mix. The 21-year-old can hit the ball hard in the later order, but his main contribution for the tigers will be with the ball.

Being an off-spinner, he opens the bowling for Bangladesh, which is a novelty in itself. Hasan, in fact, has got the record for best bowling figures by a Bangladeshi in his debut match. His exploits in the 2016 under-19 World Cup is where he was the highest wicket taker for Bangladesh.

In their victory vs South Africa, Hasan, bowled an economical 10 overs, opening the innings, bowling in the powerplay but still conceded just 44 runs, picking up the crucial wicket of Faf Du Plessis along the way.

Jofra Archer (England)

Perhaps, the most talked about cricketer in the world right now, 22-year-old Jofra Archer created a lot of headlines prior to the World Cup for a very controversial issue. Born and raised in Barbados, Archer was only eligible to play for England if he stayed for seven years in the country. The ECB, however, tweaked this rule at the last moment to accommodate Archer in the squad, reducing it from seven to three – the exact number of years Archer was there in the country.

However, all controversies aside, Archer is one hell of a quick bowler. The England pace attack which lacked that sting, has now suddenly been boosted by Archer’s presence in the squad. The boy can clock more than 90 miles an hour, and can trouble the batsmen with his pace and bounce. Hashim Amla felt the wrath of his pace first hand when he was retired hurt after a steaming bouncer from Archer rattled the veteran’s helmet.

With his ability to hit the ball in the lower order, Archer could prove to be the trump card if England win the World Cup this year.