After beating Bangladesh 3-0 in the T20Is, Afghanistan will be high on confidence on their Test debut
August 16, 2009 was a special day for Afghanistan cricket. It was the first time the nation was playing a First-Class fixture against a strong Zimbabwe XI which had as much as 7 cricketers who went on to play Test cricket for Zimbabwe. It was the ICC Intercontinental Cup and Zimbabwe was playing on their home soil. Afghanistan, on the other hand was not known for their cricketing exploits.
They only made the news when they managed to beat Jersey in the WCL Division 5 final in 2008. What happened next is history. Afghanistan went on to draw the match and gave tough competition to the home side and eventually went on to win the tournament with 6 victories in 7 matches.
It was a journey which began in 2001, when the national team was formed and in few hours, history will be created again as Afghanistan will take the field in their first ever Test match in Bengaluru against World no. 1, India. Afghanistan has achieved a lot in world cricket in the past few years, they have managed to play in World T20 regularly since 2010, have qualified for the 50-over World Cups in 2015 and will play in the next edition as well. All of this achieved by a team which never had the cricket infrastructure in their country.
Talking about the T20 leagues, players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, etc. are top players in every T20 league. But this will be a new challenge for Afghanistan playing against India in their first ever test match.
India, on the other hand are not taking the opponents lightly and have selected a full strength squad led by Ajinkya Rahane. The team is having a solid line-up with players like KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Dinesh Karthik who could take over any bowling attack. Then there are the all-rounders in R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja who can change the game with both their batting and bowling.
The pace department will be boosted by the experience of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. India will be facing the selection dilemma though with the presence of Kuldeep Yadav, Karun Nair, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur in the squad. Afghanistan has a strong spin department with Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Amir Hamza in their squad. Afghan captain, Asghar Stanikzai was full of praise for the spinners and even went on to say that the Afghan spinners are much better than the Indian spinners.
Their batting order has chipped in with runs as well as they managed to beat a strong Bangladesh side 3-0 in the recently concluded T20 series There is a slight chance of rain on all the 5 days of the Test match, but with the excellent drainage system of the Chinnaswamy Stadium, there won’t be much trouble. The pitch looks like a typical Chinnaswamy wicket could assist spinners from Day 2 or 3.
There is a bit of grass left on the pitch which might support the seamers as well on the first day. It will be an interesting start of the long international season for Team India as they welcome Afghanistan to the Test arena.
Start Time: 14th to 18th June, 9:30AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
Possible Playing XI:
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan/KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karun Nair, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Afghanistan: Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Stanikzai (c), Nasir Jamal, Mohammad Nabi, Afsar Zazai (wk), Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Zahir Khan, Amir Hamza/Wafadar, Yamin Ahmadzai