Afghanistan had an outing to remember in Abu Dhabi as it defeated Zimbabwe by six wickets on Sunday to draw the two-match Test series 1-1.
After an embarrassing defeat in the first Test, the Afghans fought hard to script a turnaround. While Rashid Khan picked up 11 wickets and created a record for bowling the most number of overs in Tests - 99.2, Hashmatullah Shahidi, earlier, became the first Afghan cricketer to scored a double century.
Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan told Sportstar that featuring in more Tests will help the team fare well in the longer format.
How challenging was it to turn the tables on Zimbabwe in the second Test?
Of course, it is hard to make a strong comeback after that kind of a defeat.
But we had a plan to work on our batting. We held a two-day scenario match followed by practice sessions.
In the second match, we strived to play our natural and positive cricket and held our strokes. We focused on our strengths and punished the bad deliveries.
What, according to you, was the turning point in the second Test?
I think when Rashid broke the 180-odd partnership taking (Donald) Tiripano's wicket. It brought us back in the game.
Afghanistan has had issues with batting. But this time, with Shahidi scoring a double ton, the side was in the driver's seat. Your thoughts...
We have had issues as all the Tests we played were solitary Test series. I am sure that if we play more of the two-match or three-match Test series, we will improve further. In cricket, you always learn more when you play more.
Coming to Hashmat, he has always been a calm and composed player, who can stay at the crease. He takes his time, and once he gets going, he can score a lot of runs.
What was the reason behind Rashid bowling so many overs?
Although Rashid was injured and not 100 per cent fit due to his finger injury, he still wanted to participate in the Test. He has always given his best for the team.
When I asked him during the match if he was fine with bowling more overs, he immediately agreed and said it is an important match for us and we should win it.
Due to the pandemic, Afghanistan did not play any international cricket for most part of 2020, but a few players like Rashid Khan featured in franchise leagues like the IPL. Did that help you to stay focused and ready for international assignments?
Of course, the leagues had good effects on our players. The leagues kept them in touch with cricket. So yeah, credit goes to these leagues as well as they helped keep the love of cricket alive during the pandemic.
With the T20 World Cup lined up later this year, how much of an impact will the upcoming T20I series have in the lead-up to the ICC event?
The T20I series comes at a good time for us as we prepare for the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup. It will give us a good idea.
We have good experience already in the T20 format but the more we play, the better we adapt ourselves.
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