The battle horns have been sounded as Afghanistan gear up to play their inaugural Test against World No.1 India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru from Thursday. Having arrived in the Garden City on Sunday, the team took to the ground immediately to show Ajinkya Rahane and his boys that they aren’t here to just compete. And if their intent on the training ground wasn’t enough, skipper Asghar Stanikzai has gone ahead and said that his spinners are better than the Indian trio of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. The boys from the war-torn nation mean business.
"The whole world knows that (we have good spinners like) Rashid Khan, Mujeeb, Nabi, Rahmat (Shah), Zahir (Khan)," Stanikzai told ESPN. "In Afghanistan, the brilliant thing is that a lot of the young talent that is coming through are spinners, because they all follow Rashid, they follow Nabi, so because of that our spin department is very strong from below. In my opinion, we have good spinners, better spinners than India."
While emotions might have gotten the better of the skipper, coach Phil Simmons sounded slightly more cautious as he said that while he didn’t wish to get into comparisons, he did have full faith in his bowlers and also felt that it was a big opportunity for the No.1 ranked T20I bowler — Rashid — to prove his mettle with the red ball.
Afghanistan squad today began their training in Bangalore ahead of the #HistoricTest match against India by taking part in a practice session#INDvsAFG #AFGvsIND #PhenomenalRise pic.twitter.com/gymeFCvKyt— Afghan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) June 10, 2018
Afghanistan squad today began their training in Bangalore ahead of the #HistoricTest match against India by taking part in a practice session#INDvsAFG #AFGvsIND #PhenomenalRise pic.twitter.com/gymeFCvKyt
The wicket at the Chinnaswamy is once again expected to aid the batsmen before it starts to take a bit of turn, like it has over the years. Turn could in fact play a crucial factor in the game as Afghanistan have four spinners in the squad, looking for an opportunity to spin a web on the Indian batsmen.
The weather though could be an area of concern as rain is predicted in patches right through the week, except for the first two days of the Test on Thursday and Friday. But the facilities in Bengaluru are one of the best in the country and it could more be about stop-and-start action rather than long breaks.
India will undoubtedly miss the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli, out with injury, and Rahane will lead the Indian outfit as they look to get their season started with a bang after a short break post the Indian Premier League.
SQUADS: India: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Javed Ahmadi, Ihsanullah Jannat, Rahmat Shah, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Zahir Khan, Hamza Hotak, Syed Ahmad Sherzad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Wafadar Momand, Mujeeb ur Rahman