Stanikzai: ‘Tension? I’m hearing it for the first time’

Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai also reveals that their President, Ashraf Ghani, may come down to Bengaluru to support the team if the match lasts beyond three days.

Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai during a practice session at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

 

Asghar Stanikzai waited for this moment — to lead Afghanistan to its first-ever Test match — for more than a decade. As his team embarks on history at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday, the 30-year-old will be missing his family.

But Stanikzai admits that when the national anthem blares out of the speakers, it will open floodgates of memories for all the cricketers.

Ghar se toh koi nahi aa raha hai (Nobody will be coming from home). But our senior officials and cricketers are here for the historic Test. When the national anthem plays, each players will be feeling emotional. Sab ke rongte khade ho jayenge (they will have goosebumps),” Stanikzai tells Sportstar.

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“You must be remembering the moment when we played our first T20, then there was the ODI. But trust me, Test is the ultimate. So, it has always been a dream to don the whites,” he smiles and quickly drops the biggest surprise. “If the match can last for three or four days, our President (Ashraf Ghani) may be here too to support us,” he says.

There were speculations that the Afghan President could fly down to watch the historic Test, but there was no confirmation.

Stanikzai agrees this is going to be the ultimate test of character for Afghanistan. But he is not feeling any pressure. After all, he is one of the first-generation stars from the country. “Tension? I am hearing it for the first time. We are well prepared,” he says.

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Afghanistan’s hard work earned them a Test berth and Stanikzai feels this is one moment he will cherish for long. “For every country, the inaugural Test match is a big thing. We are creating history, that too against India, which is the No.1 Test team and it plays well at home. So, it is a big opportunity for us,” Stanikzai says, quickly adding: “But remember, it is also going to be a big match for India.”

As he rushes towards the nets, it starts drizzling. Stanikzai looks at the sky and runs towards the National Cricket Academy arena to be with the team. History is here and Stanikzai doesn’t want to miss out on a single moment.