Afghanistan fans start campaign in a bid to reduce penalty of Mohammad Shahzad

A campaign led by an Afghanistan journalist has caught the wind on micro-blogging site Twitter. A handful of local nationals have also joined forces in the campaign which is urging the ICC to reduce the ban on their national hero, Mohammad Shahzad. Though the ICC hasn’t announced the time frame of the ban yet, it is likely to be for at least two years.

The wicket-keeper batsman was tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition test at the ICC Academy in Dubai held on January 17, 2017. His blood samples contained a prohibited substance, Clenbuterol. The 29-year old was provisionally suspended from playing cricket with effect from April 26. Shahzad didn’t choose to challenge the provisional suspension.

Shahzad is a heart-rob amongst Afghani cricket fans. His aggressive style at the top of the order is loved by many, non-Afghanis included. He took a particular liking to the T20 format, and is currently ranked fourth; behind McCullum, Dilshan and Guptill in the list of highest run-getters in T20 internationals. He even eclipsed Indian star Virat Kohli’s tally of 1709 runs during the T20 series against Ireland in March earlier in the year.

The verdict of the ICC’s Anti-Doping Code process is still not out though it looks likely that Shahzad could face a ban between two to four years. Shahzad has contributed immensely to the rise of Afghanistan cricket which recently was acknowledged by the ICC when they granted them with a Test status.

Besides performing exceptionally well in the shortest format of the game, Shahzad has decent numbers in ODI cricket as well. In 58 games, the opener has accumulated 1901 runs at almost 34. He has four centuries to his name – the highest amongst Afghani players. His strike rate of 91.35 makes him a very popular player in Afghanistan cricket.

Shahzad is the second player in the last six months who have faced suspension besides West Indian Andre Russell. Just a month before the test in Dubai, Shahzad had won the Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year award by the ICC in December 2016. -CRICTRACKER


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