Cricket

Afghanistan’s chance to show its mettle in Test cricket

Afghanistan Test cricket team returning after the first day's play against India in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Afghanistan Test cricket team returning after the first day's play against India in Bengaluru, Karnataka.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Inexperienced West Indies will look to re-establish its Test credentials

Afghanistan attained Test status in June 2017, but the team has struggled to find enough opportunities to test its skills in the longer format of the game. Since making its debut against India last year, the team has played only two more Tests — winning comfortably against fellow-newcomer Ireland and then Bangladesh.

The young Afghanistan is already a force to reckon with in the T20Is and ODIs and will now look to translate that form into the longer format against the West Indies.

The lone Test match against the big boys, starting at the Ekana International Stadium here from Wednesday, offers the Afghans a glorious chance to show their mettle.

Daunting task

It’s a daunting task, but the Afghan camp is confident of putting up a brave show in its ‘new home ground’. A squad, which has a perfect mix of youth and experience, has the potential to trouble the West Indies, which looks relatively inexperienced.

With most of its top players focusing on franchise leagues, there has been a vacuum in the Test set-up for the Windies. But the squad, led by Jason Holder, has players like Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul, who can alter the course of a game on their day.

Sharp contrast

In the last two Test series that it played — against England in February and against India in August — there was a sharp contrast in West Indies’ fortunes. Playing at home, it pulled a stunning 2-1 win against England, but went down to India quite tamely.

If the Caribbeans rely on pace, spin will be the key for Afghanistan. With its captain Rashid Khan holding fort, the Afghan outfit also has young talent like Zahir Khan who can be lethal in favourable conditions. “There is no hiding the fact that spin is our strength. We have got three of the best spinners in the world. It’s important that it suits us,” Afghan head coach Lance Klusener said.

Foggy conditions in the city will be a worry for both teams as Lucknow hosts its first Test since 1994.

The teams:

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (Capt.), Asghar Afghan, Ihsanullah Janat, Ibrahim Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Karim Janat, Qais Ahmed, Ikram Alikhiel (wk), Afsar Zazai, Nasir Jamal, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Hamza Hotak, Nijat Masood.

West Indies: Jason Holder (Capt.), Shai Hope, John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamrah Brooks, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Sunil Ambris, Jomel Warrican, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph.

Umpires: Paul Reiffel & Nitin Menon. Match Referee: Chris Broad.

Match starts at 9.30 a.m.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:55:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/afghanistans-chance-to-show-its-mettle-in-test-cricket/article30090002.ece

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