Bengaluru Test: Afghanistan to decide team based on surface

Afghanistan will take a final call on the composition of the team only after taking a look at the pitch for its Test against India, according to coach Phil Simmons.

Phil Simmons...“My advice for the boys would be that they must enjoy the game.”   -  AP

Afghanistan may have stacked its squad with four spinners for the one-off Test against India in Bengaluru next month, but it will take a final call on the final team composition only after taking a look at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium wicket.

“We also have four seamers in the team. We are just preparing and we will decide [on the plan] when we reach in Bengaluru,” Afghanistan chief coach Phil Simmons told Sportstar from Dehradun on Wednesday.

Earlier, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had named Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran, Zahir Khan and Amir Hamza Hotak in the squad. But Simmons clarified things will only be clear once they reach the venue. “Once we see how they have prepared the wicket, we will decide whether to play four spinners or not,” Simmons said.

Consistency the key

Over the last few years, the Afghanistan team has proven its mettle in the shorter format of the game, and Simmons — a former West Indies cricketer — admitted that in the longer format, success will hinge on consistency. “The main thing is that the players need to start thinking [about] how to play a longer format. It is all about how you practise and it is also about batting for long periods and bowling at the right areas consistently. That’s what we are working on,” Simmons, who took charge of the side last year, said.

Read: Bangladesh recalls Abul Hasan for Afghan T20s

At the moment the team is in Dehradun for a three-match T20 series against Bangladesh, which starts from Sunday, and Simmons pointed out that before the Test match he would advise the boys to enjoy the game. “All we are doing is preparing for a Test match. We work on discipline, so that’s what we would keep doing. My advice for the boys would be that they must enjoy the game,” Simmons said.

‘Great feeling’

Now that the team is all set to start its new sojourn, what would be the roadmap for the next couple of years?

“If we get more cricket, our [performance in the] longer format will improve. More they play, the quicker they improve. If we play more Test cricket, we will get better,” Simmons said.

Read: BCCI invites Afghan President for Bengaluru Test

Besides Afghanistan, Simmons was also delighted for the other new member of the Test club — Ireland, a side he has coached before. “I have been with Ireland for long and now I am with Afghanistan, it is a great feeling…Test cricket is opening up the door, so it is great to see these two teams playing Test cricket now,” the seasoned coach added.

Afghanistan will reach Bengaluru a couple of days after the T20 series gets over, on June 7.