Rashid Khan will lead in a Test match for the first time in Bangladesh BCCI

Mohammad Isam
Bangladesh correspondent,

Rashid Khan was named captain of all three Afghanistan teams after the World Cup, and his first assignment, the one-off Test against Bangladesh, will pose for him various challenges, some of which might take a while for him to get past.

Keeping the team together

After their poor, winless World Cup campaign, Afghanistan pulled out a proper clean-up job.

Rashid taking over as the new captain, really, is a natural progression for the man who has played a lead role in putting Afghanistan on the global cricket map. Rashid is accepted as the best cricketer in the team too, so respect isn't a problem, and he has definitely shown signs of wanting to lead.

However, he will have to be mindful of the several off-field issues that the team has encountered in recent times. Players like Mohammad Shahzad and Aftab Alam have been offloaded in the process, at least for the short term. That aside, Gulbadin Naib led the team at the World Cup, but Rahmat Shah had been named the Test captain in an earlier shake-up, and Asghar Afghan, axed as captain, has now been made Rashid's deputy. If egos do come into the picture, Rashid might have a job on his hands.

Life after Phil Simmons

Regarded as one of the best coaches in the game, Phil Simmons' time with Afghanistan came to an end after the World Cup. It didn't end cordially, and there was a much-publicised fallout with the chief selector too, not to mention the disappointing campaign in England and Wales.

Rashid will certainly miss Simmons' acumen, with former coach Andy Moles in as the interim coach while the board looks for a proper replacement for Simmons.

Moles has been part of Afghanistan's overall setup for the last five years, and even coached them at the 2015 World Cup. More recently, he had been involved with Afghanistan's junior teams, coaching the Under-19 and Under-23 sides, and was added to the selection committee during the 2019 World Cup in yet another rejig.

Rashid made his international debut after Moles' tenure as Afghanistan coach, and must strike up a rapport as soon as possible.

Captaincy v own performance

Afghan, who led Afghanistan in more than a hundred international matches, averages 23.12 with the bat. Even someone like Mohammad Nabi never hit the high notes as a captain, and this is where there could be a slight concern about Rashid.

Rashid has had a stellar start to his international career, widely accepted as one of the most talented legspinners in the modern game, especially in the shorter formats. He will now have a more direct role in terms of shaping Afghanistan future as a cricket team. History suggests that the team's best players often inspire the less talented around him, which Rashid - and Afghanistan - would hope is the case.

Consistency with the bat

But not everything will be within Rashid's control or influence. Their batting fortunes will largely depend on the batsmen, who have shown plenty of potential but a general disregard for discipline or consistency. It was one of the reasons for their failure at the World Cup, where they didn't show enough patience to ride out tough periods, or conditions.

Against Bangladesh, they will have to tackle spin from a very early stage, so batsmen like Afghan, Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi, the ones with better technique than some others, will have to do the bulk of the work. Leaving a lot for Nabi or Rashid down the order can't really help in a five-day game, so a more tempered approach from their top five will be the order of the day. If that happens, Rashid & Co will have an easier job to do with the ball.

Helping youngsters feel their way in

The likes of Ibrahim Zadran, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zahir Khan and Qais Ahmed are exciting cricketers who need opportunities to prove themselves at the highest level. Ibrahim had a fine tour of Bangladesh recently for Afghanistan A, while left-arm unorthodox spinner Zahir and legspinner Qais are no strangers to Bangladeshi conditions, having both played in the BPL.

Rashid has to recognise the right players for his playing XI, while at the same time ensuring that the four who aren't in the XI don't go off the boil. Specifically, with so many T20 leagues around, Rashid and the team management must make sure that as much as they contribute to those tournaments, they remain focused on the longer format.