India skipper Virat Kohli is set to miss the historic Test match against Afghanistan in Bengaluru starting June 14, as he has chosen to play a county stint with Surrey in the same time period, in order to prepare for the tournament against England. But in spite of his absence, Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai believes that his side, who will play their first ever match in the longest format, and become the 12th Test cricketing nation in the world, believes his side will still have a tough competition at hand.
Speaking to reporters, Stanikzai said, “All Indian players are good and everyone is (a similar standard to) Virat Kohli. I believe we are playing with Team India and not with Virat Kohli,” he was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
The 30-year old further believes that in spite of India’s No.1 Test team status according to ICC Rankings, his side will enjoy playing in the conditions in India. “Indian conditions are good for spin and we are lucky to have good spinners. Our batsmen are in good form. In the last three or four years, our team combination is good. We will try and play good and positive cricket,” he said.
Afghanistan are likely to feature the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran, who have impressed with their economical spin bowling and wicket taking abilities.
Both the bowlers have taken 13 wickets each in the tournament. But skipper Stanikzai believes that there are better spin bowlers to emerge from the country. “Rashid and Mujeeb have been performing really well and it is a proud moment for us. But we also have better spinners in Afghanistan. We have a lot of good spinners in Afghanistan, like Qais Ahmad and other spinners who will do better than Rashid,” he said.
The right-hand batsman further stressed that the match is a historic moment for the country and the result does not matter. “Winning and losing does not matter,” he said.
Afghanistan was given the Test status in 2017 along with Ireland, who are currently playing their first Test against Pakistan in Dublin.