Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan's wicket-keeper batsman and leading run-scorer in One-Day Internationals, has threatened to quit international cricket after claiming that he was incorrectly declared unfit by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and omitted from the ongoing World Cup squad.
"I had a practice session, bowled, batted, and had a keeping session... had lunch with my team-mates, and then sat down in the team bus (to return to the hotel) only to see the ICC press release on my phone saying I am out of the World Cup," Shahzad told reporters in Kabul. "That was the moment when I found out that I was unfit.
"I don't see myself playing anymore. It's a dream to play the World Cup. I was removed from the 2015 World Cup [he wasn't selected for fitness reasons] and now this one as well. I am going to consult with friends and family. My heart isn't in cricket anymore."
Shahzad, 32, had been forced to retire hurt during Afghanistan's warm-up fixture against Pakistan due to a knee injury and subsequently went for scans. He played his side's first two World Cup games against Australia and Sri Lanka where he returned modest scores of 0 & 7.
He did not show any signs of discomfort as such but said that he consulted a doctor in England regarding his knee and was advised two to three days rest.
"I went to a doctor in London and he drained my knee of some fluids, gave me a pill and said that I could play after resting for two-three days," Shahzad said
"I asked the manager, who asked me to put the phone in my pocket and talk to the doctor. The doctor looked at me helplessly and said he couldn't do anything. I don't know what is the problem. If they have a problem, they should let me know. If they don't want me to play, I will quit cricket.
When asked to comment on Shahzad's startling claims, ACB CEO Asadullah Khan said the wicket-keeper batsman was unfit indeed and therefore was not unable to give his best on the field.
"What he is saying is completely wrong. A proper medical report to the ICC was submitted and then only his replacement was announced. The team could not have fielded an unfit player. I understand he is upset at not being part of World Cup anymore but the team could not have compromised on his fitness," Khan said.
Afghanistan, who replaced Shahzad with 18-year-old Ikram Ali Khil, next play South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday.