Afghans ready for maiden Test against India
BANGALORE, India (AP):
Afghanistan will take a sense of excitement, not nerves, on to the pitch for their maiden Test match today, skipper Asghar Stanikzai says.
Afghanistan will become only the 12th Test nation when they face India, the world's top-ranked side. But Stanikzai does not expect the enormity of the occasion to affect his players.
"Are we nervous? Not at all because this is the first time I am hearing that word," said Stanikzai. "We are excited and the people back home are excited that we are playing the number one ranked side in our first Test.
"They have seen us do well in shorter formats, and our fans will expect us to do similarly well in Test cricket as well," he added.
Afghanistan have made quick strides in white-ball cricket since its international debut in 2001. They played at the one-day international World Cup for the first time in 2015 and have already qualified for next year's championship in England.
They also reached the Super Ten stage in the World Twenty20 in 2016 and beat eventual champions the Windies in a league match.
The troubled country has yet to play an international game at home and the possibility of doing so in the future is remote as well. They have set up an adoptive base in India, playing limited-overs series against Ireland and Bangladesh in the past three years.
"The domestic structure is now in place back in Afghanistan. Players are coming through different grades and progressing quickly. We have a young pacer (18-year-old Wafadar) to showcase in this game as well. The exciting thing about Afghanistan cricket is that there is a great young talent pool available and it only bodes well for the future of this team," said coach Phil Simmons, who has previously been in charge of Zimbabwe and Ireland as well.