Bengaluru: When Afghanistan step into the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday, it will be a historic moment as they don the whites as the 13th Test playing nation in the world.
Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai, asked if they were nervous on the eve of the match against India here on Wednesday, said, “Well, I am hearing it for the first time. We are well prepared and ready to go out there and showcase our skills.”
Test cricket viewership has the potential to go up by 34 million as no one at home would want to miss the match which completes them as a cricket playing nation, he added.
Stanikzai agreed that there was a difference between playing a T20 and a Test match. “So far, we have been successful in executing our plan in the other two formats of the game. Hopefully, we will be able to deliver tomorrow as well.” Stanikzai said they were happy to play the inaugural match against the number one team in the world.
Coach Phil Simmons, asked to comment on his skipper’s statement that their spinners were better that India’s, said: “My captain knows what he is talking about.
“I believe all spinners in this contest will be excellent. But you can’t take away the fact that Rashid Khan is the most difficult bowler to play against. He has not played Test cricket, but his professionalism will help him to adjust.”
On his assessment of the pitch and if it would assist spin, Simmons said, “When I played them in Ireland, it was a little bit greener than this and it still turned. I think our bowlers are experienced enough to turn on that. It looks a lot darker today than it did two days ago, so I think by tomorrow it will be dry enough to spin on.”
Dashing wicket-keeper/batsman Mohammad Shahzad has raised eyebrows because of his fitness standards and Simmons confirmed that they had Afzar Zazai to keep wickets with Shahzad fielding at slip or close in. He added that his batsmen were well equipped to handle India’s bowlers.
“We have prepared for what will come our way. We like the bowling options in our squad and hope our team come out on top,” he said. Certainly, there will be a bit of disappointment among players at not being on the same field as Virat. But we are here to win the Test match and beat India and not Virat. At the end of the day, we are happy to be here and play India. Kohli is not India,” Simmons said.