Stanikzai: ‘Our spinners will challenge Indian batsmen’

Afghanistan will make its much awaited Test debut at the Chinnaswamy Stadium from June 14. The team is currently training in Greater Noida but will be travelling to Dehradun later this week ahead of the three-match T20 series against Bangladesh early next month.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai and his teamamtes take a break during a practise session at a cricket stadium in Greater Noida.   -  AFP

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai believes the ‘world-class’ spinners in his team will pose a serious challenge to the much-vaunted Indian batting line-up in the historic one-off Test in Bengaluru from June 14.

Afghanistan will make its much awaited Test debut at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and Stankizai said the aim is to give a good fight to India, which will be without its regular skipper Virat Kohli.

“With or without Kohli, India are a top team and even stronger at home. Kohli is a very big player and we would have enjoyed playing against him,” Stanikzai told PTI.

Read: Rahane to captain India for historic Test with Afghanistan

“Irrespective of who is playing, everyone knows how tough it is to face India in India. It will be a great learning experience but we are surely not overawed by the challenge. We will be playing to win. We have world-class spinners in our team and they can trouble India.”

Afghanistan is currently training in Greater Noida but will be travelling to Dehradun later this week ahead of the three-match T20 series against Bangladesh early next month.

While coach Phil Simmons has stressed on making his team mentally and physically ready for the five-day challenge, Stanikzai feels adjusting to the Test mode from four-day cricket will not be much of an issue.

“We would like to learn from their players and they can learn from ours. Yes, we are playing our first Test but we are going into the game with enough first-class experience.

“We play about 10 four-day games in a year and have won the ICC Intercontinental Cup twice. Tests will be different obviously but I would not say that there is a huge difference,” said the veteran of 86 ODIs and 51 T20s.

Also read: Afghanistan to host Bangladesh T20s in India

The team’s key players — spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran, and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi — are currently playing in the IPL. Rashid especially has evolved into a top-quality leg-spinner and a few others including Mujeeb, Zahir Khan and Qais Ahmed too are improving rapidly.

“Spin is our strength, there is no doubt about that. We have pacers too, Dawlat and Shapoor Zadran, who can bowl at 140kmph plus speeds. So we have the resources.”

Any specific reason why Afghanistan producing spinners at a rapid rate? “Our spinners are doing well so that is why most people are talking about them. The wickets in Afghanistan are similar to what you see in India, more helpful to the spinners. That could be one reason. Because of that factor, our batsmen also play spin well,” said Stanikzai.

He sees the upcoming Afghan T20 league in Sharjah further fast-tracking the growth of the game in the country. “What we would have achieved in 10 years, with the league we could do that within the next three years. Our players will get to rub shoulders with the best in the business. The main thing in international cricket is absorbing pressure and they will get to learn that by playing alongside top foreign players,” the 30-year-old added.

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