India Vs Afghanistan: India is all set to host Afghanistan for their debut Test match tomorrow in Bangalore as together they are about to make history.
Afghanistan is exuberant with high spirits and confidence as they enter their first ever Test series. Although the country is war-ravaged, they remain resilient. India, on the other hand, will be entering without captain Virat Kohli who is sitting out due to injury. Although he has been replaced by stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, it will not be the same as Kohli will know his team’s strengths and weaknesses as well as tactics better than his double.
As Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons said, his men won’t understand what Test cricket is until they get onto the field. So Afghanistan definitely has a good international cricket history and their individual players have shown a lot of promise but will they be able to execute their abilities to the highest level in this new format? Captain Ashgar Stanikzai made a confident statement about how the home team’s bowlers put together are no match for his spinners. This pompousness seems to indicate that the team is unaware of what they’ve really signed up for.
To which, Dinesh Karthik replied, “Our Kuldeep Yadav (2 Tests) has played more first-class games than all their spinners put together. I know from where it’s coming but I wouldn’t to harp too much on that.”
When you say spinner, obviously the first name to come to mind is Rashid Khan who has created a whirlwind of sorts around the skill and finesse he displayed during the Indian Premier League. Now it all comes down to how well he can maintain executing that very dangerous quick arm speed in a complete fifty-over game. This won’t just test his skill but also patience and endurance. This may just be Rashid Khan’s most important exam before entering some of the top names in cricket history. He should be supported by Mujeeb Ur Rahman who also had a pretty good IPL outing and wicketkeeper Mohammed Shahzad.
India, however, does have experience which may just allow them to run through this smoothly even in the absence of Virat Kohli. Every player knows his part and Rahane from his side may have to put little to no effort in bringing the already well-oiled machine to start.
As per T20 format, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have been having a good year with the bat so it is very likely they will be opening to set the pace for the home team. Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara have the ability to stay on the field for a longer duration, especially with no pressure of an asking rate. However, there is a chance of Karun Nair making an appearance in place of Murali. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will rival the opponent spinners while Kuldeep Yadav seems to be the team’s hope as per Dinesh Karthik’s statement. If DK makes the cut for the line-up, this will be the first Test since 2010.
Afghanistan has the best bowling sector with a variety of players to choose from. Zahir Khan as the left-arm wrist spinner bowler, mystery bowlers Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman and all-rounders Mohammed Nabi and Amir Hamza. If selected, Mujeeb will be the first player to be born in the 21st century and play in the Test series.
This will be a win-win in any case for the guests as even coming this far will be deemed as a victory. But this will be very interesting to watch nonetheless as once again experience will be weighed against exuberance.
India: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini, Ravichandran Ashwin. Ravindra Jadeja. Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Afghanistan: Ashgar Stanikzai (captain), Mohammed Shahzad (wk), Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Ihsanullah Janat, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Zahir Khan, Amir Hamza Hotak, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai Wafadar, Mujeeb ur Rahman.