As Afghanistan get ready to play their maiden Test vs India, we look at five players who can trouble the No 1 ranked Test side
Rashid Khan and Mohammad Shahzad. All Pics/AFP
1877 was the year when the game of cricket was originated when England took on Australia at Melbourne. Afghanistan, when they take on India on 14th June, will become 12th team to play Test cricket. The Afghanistan cricket team has come a long way in the last 5-6 years and this momentous occasion will no doubt bring the best out of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan will be taking on No 1 ranked Test side India in their own backyard and defeating the men in blue will be an uphill task. But, the game of cricket is not played on paper and whichever team competes well on the given day will clinch the match. As this will be the maiden Test, we don’t know much about the Afghanistan players.
Let’s look at 5 Afghanistan players that India should be wary of:
1. Rashid Khan: Afghanistan’s favourite son and cricketer, who has impressed the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, would no doubt be the No 1 threat for Ajinkya Rahane led side. Rashid Khan is only 19-years-old, but has the temperament of a seasoned cricketer is a masterful wrist-spinner. Rashid Khan for the second consecutive season was the hit in the T20 League for Hyderabad franchise.
The only drawback for Rashid Khan would be the limited first-class cricket and in Test cricket, batsmen don’t have to go after the bowling and Rashid might have to bowl 50-60 overs in an innings on some occasions. Rashid Khan has proved his mettle and few would bet against this free-spirited cricketer who is enjoying success in the purest form of the game.
2. Mohammad Nabi: The 33-year-old Mohammad Nabi is the veteran of Afghanistan cricket. Mohammad Nabi has been there for Afghanistan since their initial days and is a very dependable and bankable all-rounder. Mohammad Nabi is a calm head and also has the experience of leading Afghanistan in the past.
While Rashid Khan has been enjoying the limelight in recent times, many people forget that Nabi was part of the Hyderabad franchise in T20 2018 and due to the restriction of overseas players. Mohammad Nabi has already played 98 ODIs and 63 T20I matches for the national team and his all-round ability will be required against an agile and hungry Indian side. Afghanistan has a lot of young players and they need Nabi’s experience and authority to take them through.
3. Mohammad Shahzad: Do you know Afghanistan team also has an MS? No, we are not talking about Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but Afghanistan’s very own Mohammad Shahzad. He may not be the typical six-pack, fitness freak, health-conscious cricketer, but a cricketer with natural talent and gifted timing. The 30-year-old refuge cricketer has always battled odds and is one gutsy player. Shahzad loves to play his strokes and is a huge admirer of MS Dhoni and his helicopter shot.
Indian team possesses good fast bowlers and spinners and it would be interesting to know Mohammad Shahzad’s approach. One thing is for certain that Mohammad Shahzad would not die wondering and will take the bowling on. Mohammad Shahzad is a shrewd and attacking batsman and if he gets going then Indian team would be in the field for a very long day.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman
4. Mujeeb Ur Rahman: Every cricket team nowadays have to have variety and mystery in their attack and Afghanistan are no different. The 17-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman has plenty of mysteries under his belt and had a very successful T20 2018 for Punjab. Mujeeb Ur Rahman comes across as a very confident, cool customer and if he makes it into the playing eleven, the Indian team will not take him lightly. Mujeeb Ur Rahman might fight the grind of Test cricket hard and it is a universal fact that Indian players are the best players of spin bowling.
5. Asghar Stanikzai: Last but not the least, Asghar Stanikzai, the man who will have the honour and privilege of captaining Afghanistan in their maiden Test against India at Bengaluru. Asghar Stanikzai is like a father-figure and mentor of sorts to young Afghan players and was chiefly responsible for Afghanistan maiden ODI win over a full member (Bangladesh). Asghar Stanikzai would be the batsman that the batting will revolve around and would have to tackle Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, while batting in the middle-order.
Afghanistan would be looking to Stanikzai to lead from the front and give a proper account of them. Asghar Stanikzai’s name will go down in the record books as the first captain of Afghanistan in Test cricket and if he inspires and gives belief to his players then he has already done half the job.
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