After downing Bangladesh, Afghanistan target India in maiden Test
Even after such an amazing T20 series win, Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai stayed calm. Yes, there were handshakes and back slapping as the Afghans celebrated their 3-0 sweep of the experienced Bangladesh side.
However, their skipper knows the job will be well done only if they compete well against India in their first-ever Test in Bangalore next week.
Much of the credit goes to their spin trio Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who were consistent throughout the series and rattled Bangladesh.
By defending nine runs in the last over of the final game, world’s No 1 T20 bowler Rashid proved he has the rare talent to withstand even the most pressure situations. And he will be their biggest weapon in the Test against India.
“I am always trying my best to believe in my skills. I had a plan in the last over and I thought whatever happens I have to bowl in the good length area. Whether leg spin or wrong one, I just enjoyed. The ball was gripping on a good length and that was my plan. Bowling in that area got me success. Credit goes to my fitness too. If you are fit, you can deliver in any department. It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing in league cricket or in the national team, I just want to enjoy,” said Rashid, 19, who was Man-of-the-Series.
Needing four off the last ball, Bangladesh’s Ariful Haque hit the delivery hard and high over long-on, but Shafiqullah almost pulled off a stunning catch standing at the edge. He failed to catch it, but ended up pushing the ball inside the rope followed by a throw.
Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammed Shahzad collected cleanly to break the bails and run out Mahmudullah going for a third run that would have tied the game.
“Our spinners have been phenomenal in the series. They have lived up to the hype. Rashid has done well for himself. He has gathered lot of experience playing in the BBL, IPL and Bangladesh Premier League. I am sure our spinners will fox the Indian batsmen too in the Test match. We are up for the challenge and hungry to go out there and perform,” said Samiullah Shenwari, who hammered 49 runs in the second game and 33 not out in the last tie.
Even the Bangladesh captain agreed they were done in by the Afghan spinners. “We saw their mettle in IPL. We failed to pick them, especially Rashid, who bowled tremendously. Our team did well in the last match compared to the first two matches. We had a mental block and failed to overcome it when it mattered,” felt Shakib Al Hasan, who received flak from the Bangladesh Cricket Board chief Nazmul Hassan after losing the series.
When a captain shows faith in his 17-year-old spinner, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and asks him to bowl the first over, it shows his confidence in the off-spinner’s bowling. Rashid has always said Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi bowling from the other end takes the pressure off him. Nabi too was instrumental, with his bowling and a cameo he played in the second match.
“It has been tough to train during Ramzan as we have been fasting. But we have stuck to our tasks. In the morning session, we used to train for the Test match versus India and in the evening for the T20s against Bangladesh. We back each other and are all set to take on a top team like India in the longer format,” said Shenwari, who idolises former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen.