Specialist batting role for Shahzad?

It looks like Afghanistan could use Shahzad as a specialist batsman, when it begins its Test sojourn against India at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.

During the team practice sessions, Shahzad could be seen fielding at the slips while young gun Afsar Zazai donned the gloves.   -  AP

Will Mohammad Shahzad be able to stand behind the stumps for so long? Ever since Afghanistan named its seasoned stumper-batsman in the side for its debut Test, this was one question doing the rounds in the cricketing circles.

But it looks like Afghanistan could use Shahzad as a specialist batsman, when it begins its Test sojourn against India at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday. As the team practised on Wednesday afternoon under the watchful eyes of fielding coach, John Mooney, Shahzad could be seen fielding at the slips while young gun Afsar Zazai donned the gloves.

The session went on for good half an hour and every time Zazai would drop a catch, Shahzad could be seen giving him a tip or two. Even Afghanistan’s chief coach, Phil Simmons, hinted that Zazai — who is a specialist stumper in the four-day games — could be brought in as a wicketkeeper for the Test.

“He (Shahzad) has been fit enough to keep in 50 overs and open the batting. He has batted well. Fortunately, we have Zazai, who has been a four-day keeper and Shahzad has been outstanding on the field,” Simmons said.

Suggesting that Shahzad is brilliant at slips, Simmons added: “He (Shahzad) may not move around but (he has) a great hand in slip and close-in,” Simmons said.

In the 16 first-class games that Zazai has featured in, the 24-year-old has taken 40 catches and has been involved in three stumpings.

Going by the trend in the training session, it would not be too much of a surprise if Zazai finally keeps the stumps in the historic Test.