PREVIEW: There will be a lot riding on the Afghanistan team when they face Bangladesh in a T20 international series beginning Saturday. The two sides will play three games before Afghanistan, will make their Test cricket debut in Bengaluru against India.
Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai said it was a big huge moment for his country and made it clear that they very much looking forward to the challenge of the historic first Test against India. The T20 series will help us prepare for the big challenge in Bengaluru from June 14 to 18, he said. “We would like to give our best in the T20s against Bangladesh. Hopefully we can win and gain confidence ahead of the first Test match against India. It is going to be huge for Afghanistan,” said Asghar.
Five players of the Afghanistan players- Stanikzai, Mohammad Shahzad, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rehman and Mohammad Nabi, figure in both the squads. “It has been difficult with the T20 and Test squads training at the same time. But it is getting a bit easier as we are coming up to the game. You usually have Test matches first and then limited over series or vice versa. We just have to work around that,” said Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons had said on Saturday. Both Afghanistan and Bangladesh have players in their squad who have just finished a season of the IPL.
While Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Mohammed Nabi (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Mujeeb Ur Rehman (Kings XI Punjab) hogged limelight with their prowess, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Mustafizur Rahman (Mumbai Indians) also caught the attention. Rashid has been in good form in IPL and Stanikzai feels the leg spinner’s experience will be valuable for the team.
“Rashid Khan did exceptionally well in IPL. His form and experience will lift other team mates against Bangladesh. Rashid is in great form. We have lot of cricket ahead like the Bengaluru Test, Asia cup, World Cup in 2019, hopefully he can mentor others in the team. His experience in the IPL will lift the team. Nabi is also an experienced campaigner.”
“Mujeeb was a discovery this IPL season. He is young and must have learnt so much from Kings XI Punjab coach and captain. The conditions in Dehradun will be more or less similar to the IPL match conditions,” pointed out Asghar.
For the veteran Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib too, IPL 11 proved to be a learning curve and spending six to seven weeks in India helped learn about the conditions.
“We reached the finals and played under tough conditions. Playing for the country is totally different. It gives you a sense of pride. I hope to use all the IPL experience against Afghanistan, who have improved so much in the last two years,” said Shakib.