Following their historic Test win against Bangladesh, retiring allrounder Mohammad Nabi lauded "aggressive" captain Rashid Khan, while also laying the blame on last-minute captaincy changes for their poor performance in the World Cup.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board in April had ushered in a new leadership era with Rahmat Shah, Gulbadin Naib and Rashid taking charge of the Test, ODI and T20I teams respectively, ending Asghar Afghan's four-year stint as captain.
With Afghanistan losing all of their nine matches in the World Cup, Naib's captaincy, especially his on-field decisions during a thriller against Pakistan, came under the scanner. That wasn't all. Phil Simmons, whose tenure as their coach ended after the tournament, came out threatening to expose the truth behind the team's World Cup mess, including the controversial removal of Afghan as captain, suggesting disquiet in the ranks.
"It is all about team combination," Nabi said in after the win against Bangladesh on Monday. "In the World Cup, the board members changed the old captain and that's why the combination wasn't that good. With Rashid as captain, Asghar and I support him a lot. He prepared for the role too.
"If you change the captain before the World Cup, how can you prepare the team? He [Naib] never captained in his life, how can he lead a team in the World Cup? That's why it was tough, and the boys didn't perform in the World Cup. We got close against India, Pakistan and West Indies but now it has totally changed. We are giving chances to the youngsters; three debuted in the Test and there will be many debuts in the T20s too."
Scathing in their criticism, Nabi and Rashid had taken to Twitter to oppose the captaincy change before the World Cup, with Rashid calling the decision "irresponsible and biased".
Following the winless campaign in the tournament, Rashid was made the captain across formats, while Afghan was appointed his deputy. Rashid has now delivered in his very first assignment, spinning Afghanistan to victory in Chattogram and also picking up the match award for his 11 wickets and a half-century in the first innings, which invited praise from Nabi.
Nabi's decision to retire from Tests came as a result of him wanting youngsters to take his place in the format. On this occasion too he highlighted the importance of having a young player like Rashid in charge. "We are focusing on the youngsters," he said. "We have put a young captain in-charge, he is aggressive. He is the No. 1 bowler in the world as well [in T20Is]. That's why we all support the captain. Our chairman and CEO, our board members support the team."