Afghanistan is all set to play their inaugural Test against Team India at Bengaluru starting from June 14 to June 18. This is a big break for boys from a war-torn nation who have already achieved relative success in the T20Is and ODIs. They are probably the most exciting team in the world today and will take a step forward after capturing the attention of everyone around, in white ball cricket.
The Afghan will be high on confidence especially after beating Bangladesh 3-0 in the recently concluded T20 series in Dehradun and this is also warning to Ajinkya Rahane-led Team India that the Afghans cannot be taken lightly. Team India would look to get into the red ball mode ahead of the challenging England tour. Meanwhile, ahead of the ‘Historic First’ Test, here we take a look at five Afghan players whom India should wary of:
Rashid Khan – True Match winner
It won’t be wrong to say, he is the Virat Kohli to Afghanistan – a match winner. The wicket doesn’t matter when the young spinner has the ball in his hands. His spells over the years have bamboozled batsman all over. It is because of his sheer consistent performance in T20Is and ODIs that Rashid Khan has earned the tag of the best T20 bowler from master-blaster Sachin Tendulkar during IPL. And now, stepping in Test cricket, Rashid Khan has opportunity to show he can also turn the red ball to get the same result like he does with the white ball.
Mujeeb-Ur Rahman – Mystery Spinner
Mujeeb-Ur Rahman was unknown until the IPL franchise, Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) picked him up for Rs 4 crore in season 11. The 17-year-old’s stunning performance and Virat Kohli’s dismissal brought him in the limelight. He took 14 wickets from 11 matches with an economy of 6.99. In the IPL match, the mystery bowler bowled a perfect googly to sneak one through the bat and pad of Kohli and hit the stumps. It was one of his best wickets. A lot will ride on Mujeeb’s young shoulders, Afghanistan would want him to complement Rashid to give the team early breaks.
Mohammad Nabi – Impressive All-rounder
He is an all-rounder and a former limited over captain of Afghanistan team. Nabi is a proper all-rounder, a right-handed batsman and an off-break bowler. Apart from playing in IPL, Nabi is another Afghan player who has been part of the various T20 leagues across the globe like ‘Big Bash League’ (BBL), ‘Bangladesh Premier League’ (BPL) and ‘Pakistan Super League’ (PSL) among others. At 33, Nabi is an inspiration for the rest of the team. He was an integral part of the Afghanistan side that qualified for World T20 in 2010, 2012, 2014 & 2016, and also the World Cup 2015.
Mohammad Shahzad — Batting powerhouse
The 30-year-old burly wicket-keeper is known for his batting prowess and will be one of the key members of the Afghan side during the historic Test. Shahzad has an unbeaten double century in the first class-cricket and is also team’s highest scorer in T20Is and second highest in ODIs. Shahzad could be one of skipper Asghar Stanikzai’s main trump cards in the upcoming game versus India.
Coming to his off-field antics, he recently stole headlines when he said that he didn’t need to work on his diet as he could hit longer sixes than India skipper Virat Kohli.
Asghar Stanikzai – Captain of the Ship
As the team is all set for their maiden Test, Stanikzai has already earned a name for himself in the international arena. Stanikzai is one of those batsmen who has the mindset to spend long hours at the crease without losing focus. He will be an integral member of the Afghanistan team and, as a skipper, Asghar will look to take on Team India on front-foot, like his batting style.