India vs Afghanistan: Rashid Khan, Mujeeb stars in spin-heavy Afghanistan squad for India Test
World’s premier T20 bowler Rashid Khan will headline a four-pronged spin attack in the 15-strong Afghanistan squad announced in New Delhi for the historic one-off Test against India in Bengaluru, starting June 14.
Apart from IPL sensations Rashid and young Mujeeb ur Rahman, the other two spinners are chinaman Zahir Khan and left-arm orthodox Amir Hamza Hotak in the Ashgar Stanikzai-led squad.
Rashid and Mujeeb had made the entire world sit up and take notice of their talent in the shortest format, but the duo is set to face a different battle of attrition with the red SG Test in their hands.
Between them, they have played only four first-class games (all four played by Rashid while 17-year-old Mujeeb is yet to play a longer format encounter).
The batting will primarily depend on skipper Stanikzai, flamboyant opener Mohammed Shahzad and batting all-rounder Mohammed Nabi.
In all, the squad has a collective experience of 205 first-class games, which makes it 13.6 four-day games per player.
Only four players have an experience of 20 plus first-class matches. Nabi, who has the experience of playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the past two IPL seasons, is the most capped first-class player with 32 games.
He is followed by skipper Stanikzai with 23 games, pacer Wafadar (22 games) and Shahzad 20 games.
Afghanistan will miss their experienced seamer Dawlat Zadran out with an injury and the pace department will be handled by Yamin Ahmadzai Wafadar and Sayed Ahmed Shirzad.
Experienced left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran has been picked for the T20s against Bangladesh in Dehradun but he has not been picked in the longer version as he last played a four-day game in 2013.
Undoubtedly, all eyes will be on Rashid, whom Tendulkar has termed as the “best T20 bowler in the world”.
“He is doing really well, specially the shorter format – T20, he did fantastic for Sunrisers, he is a quality bowler and everyone needs to accept and respect that. Afghanistan can’t be taken lightly, because in cricket and in generally in life you cannot take anything for granted,” India’s stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane said.
“Qualifying for a Test is the biggest thing for Afghanistan cricket and that is good for cricket. We don’t want to take any team lightly. We just want to go out there and play with the same intensity as we do with every other team.”
Afghanistan Squad: Ashgar Stanikzai, Mohammed Shahzad, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Ihsanullah Janat, Nasir Jamal, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan, Zahir Khan, Amir Hamza Hotak, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Yamin Ahmadzai Wafadar, Mujeeb ur Rahman.