'Excited' Afghanistan gears up for India challenge

The Afghanistan Test team had its first-ever group photo session in whites as the Asghar Stanikzai-led side prepares for its debut Test match against India.

Afghanistan are all set to make its Test debut against India, starting June 14. (Photo: Shayan Acharya)

The excitement was showing on Rashid Khan’s face as he walked into the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Dressed in whites and a blue blazer - with the Afghanistan Cricket Board logo embossed on it - the spin sensation could not hide his emotions as the team gathered for a group photo session on the ground.

After all, it was their first-ever picture as a ‘Test’ team. Seasoned campaigners - Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Shehzad too joined Rashid to make sure that all the members of the team had smiles on their faces.

“Smile, smile. Don’t be a bore…” Nabi shouted at his team-mates as the official team photographer readied his lenses.

And a few moments later, when the photographer started clicking the pictures, Rashid, Nabi and Shehzad made it a point that there was not a single ‘boring face’.

Watching the entire proceedings, the team manager, Shir Agha Hamkar, explained the players are extremely excited about the Test debut.

“This is our first group photo in Test kit. The guys are excited and are extremely happy. They don’t want to miss out on a single moment of this Test match. This is important for everyone,” Hamkar told Sportstar.

Having been with the team as its manager for years, Hamkar has seen Afghanistan cricket come a long way. And, the seasoned manager admitted that this is a big moment for the entire country.

“It is a big thing for all of us - back home and here. If you see in the dressing room, they are all very excited and are looking forward. We are well prepared because we are have been practising hard for the last one month,” Hamkar said.

While the top bosses of the ACB have reached Bengaluru to be with the team, more dignitaries are likely to make it to the city. And that would perhaps motivate the team ahead of its ‘biggest challenge’.

But going by Shehzad’s reactions after the photo shoot - he pulled a chair and danced a bit as his team-mates cheered for him - it looks the Afghans are anything but under pressure.