World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015
Afghanistan look to regain associate Twenty20 crown
Afghanistan come into the World Twenty20 Qualifier after a year in which they've not played all that much Twenty20 cricket since a disappointing World Twenty20 campaign in Bangladesh. With the apparent decline in Ireland's Twenty20 performance though, they'll be looking to regain a title they last won back in 2010.
They won many hearts with their performances in the World Cup earlier this year, and the selectors have mostly kept faith with the squad from that tournament, with Sharafudin Ashraf and Mohammad Shahzad the players who missed out in Australia and New Zealand.
Shahzad is the most interesting of those two returnees. Having been dropped for poor form and a lack of fitness, he has worked hard and been rewarded with a return to the squad.
He has been in some form in recent weeks too. In the longer form of the game, he scored 266 from 279 balls against Oxford University and 109 from 89 balls against the Middlesex Second XI. He struggled in the Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland but came back in the Twenty20 format by thumping a 51 ball century against the Unicorns last week. Those big scores may have been against second string sides, but if he can carry that form into this tournament, he could be a dangerous proposition.
Another change since the World Cup has been the captaincy switching from Mohammad Nabi to Asghar Stanikzai. Nabi will be the first to admit that he had a disappointing World Cup campaign, scoring just 90 runs at 15 and taking only three wickets at 87. He - and his replacement as captain - will no doubt be hoping that he can recover his old form now he is free from the burden of captaincy.
The bowling attack - probably the best in the whole tournament - is led by Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran. With many associate batsmen not used to the sort of pace they can produce, they will look to be bowling sides out cheaply throughout the tournament.
Star Man: Shapoor Zadran. With his long run up (and long hair) and display of emotion at the end of the win over Scotland he became something of a cult figure during the World Cup. It may not be as high profile a stage, but he always gives it his all.
Players to watch: Mohammad Shahzad will be looking to make big scores and Mohammad Nabi will be looking to put that disappointing World Cup campaign behind him. With the ball much will depend on Hamid Hassan. He's not been the same since that terrible injury three years ago, but he's still one of the best bowlers in associate cricket and forms a formidable attack with Shapoor Zadran that would be the envy of some full member sides.
CricketEurope verdict: Afghanistan's players will accept nothing less than yet another place in the final. Their fans will be demanding a win. They'll certainly qualify for the World Twenty20.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Javed Ahmadi, Aftab Alam, Mirwais Ashraf, Sharafudin Ashraf, Hamid Hassan, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Mohammad Shahzad, Samiullah Shinwari, Dawlat Zadran, Najib Zadran, Shapoor ZadranAfghanistan fixtures: