Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan has warned the Indians, saying his side were unperturbed by their reputation and will look to exploit the surprise element to dazzle Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men in their twenty20 World Cup opener on Saturday.
“On the technical side it is good that they don’t know us because when they know about you they will plan. The coaches will watch the videos and work on our weakness. Luckily, we know everything about them. We have seen all their IPL games.
We will give them a surprise which will make them remember us after the game,” Kabir said.
Another important component of their team, all-rounder Karim Sadiq feels the fact that they don’t depend on any individual gives them an edge over the mighty Indians.
“They have all performed. We haven’t got a certain guy we bank on. We have got a batting line-up which runs down to number eight. And we have got seven bowlers to choose from.
“If one batsman fails, the other one will win us the match. If one bowler doesn’t perform, another guy will bowl well. It has been a story of total team performance. I think we have good side which is capable of pulling off an upset,” Karim explained.
Captain Nawroz Mangal also exuded confidence and said his side would give their everything and grab the opportunity of playing at such a high level.
“We are very happy that we are here. We worked really hard for it for the last two years and that has put us in the top 12 teams in the competition.
“We know there is a lot of pressure back home. But we have already fought in pressure cooker conditions and we are used to it. We will give our 100 per cent in this pressure game,” said Nawroz.
More than their epoch-making performances, Nawroz was glad that cricket had unified the people of Afghanistan.
“It is a great achievement. If we have qualified, it is because of the whole nation’s prayers. If the whole nation is praying for you, it means that it is bringing the whole nation together. Cricket is already playing a role in Afghanistan and it can play a major role in the peace process in the region,” emphasised the 28-year-old.
“We have been playing together for the last seven-eight years. The players are united and they love their country.
They are hungry for cricket and want to prove that they are the next coming cricket team nation in the world.
“A lot of it goes to the tough upbringing because during the war days when they were in refugee camps they were fighting for food, clothes and for a living. That upbringing has made them mentally tough and they know that only when they win they can survive,” Nawroz added.
Nawroz felt the World Cup was a great stage for Afghanistan to announce its’ arrival to the world.
“It is a big thing for them (fans back home). They have only followed the team’s performance through the internet.
This will be the first time that people will watch them play live on television. It will also be a great opportunity to tell the world that the game of cricket has unified us,” said the Afghan captain.
Many from the Afghanistan team have their idols in Indian cricket but Nawroz said they won’t get dazzled by them.
“Dhoni is one of their stars. In fact, our wicketkeeper’s main idol is Dhoni. His name is Mohammad Shahzad. It starts with MS as in Dhoni’s name. So he calls himself MS,” said Karim.
“Don’t make the mistake that they would be dazzled by the Indian players. On one side they are their heroes, but on the other they know that they are here to play tough cricket. They are prepared to give them a tough fight,” added the Afghan skipper.