Can Afganistan batsmen provide able support to Rashid Khan and co in Test cricket?
The Afghanistan Cricket Team is currently stationed in Dehradun, ready to face Bangladesh in the second of the three-match T20I series which they lead by a match to nil. All the focus, though, is on the historic one-off Test match where they'll face India in Bengaluru.
The Afghanistan team, as things stand, depends heavily on their spin department and with two of the best spinners in the sport - Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman - in their side, it is only logical to bank all their hopes on them.
However, to cross the biggest hurdles in the sport of cricket, a team needs all of its XI players to perform to their potential. And Afghanistan's cricket team is no different. In an attempt to find out whether their batsmen can back up the spinners in their side, Sportskeeda spoke to former Afghanistan batting coach Monty Desai.
Q. Do you think the Afghan batsmen can seamlessly transform from T20 mode to Test mode and what do you think is their strongest point? Any particular player who can be the game changer?
My firsthand experience with them has been more about their skills and their ability to keep growing those skills for a longer period. There's hunger though, so it's quite early to say if they can seamlessly transform into a Test side where they can play longer innings according to the situation.
They do play four-day matches at home so a lot of players who are going to be a part of Test squad must already be going through that training to play the longer format. Though I'm no longer associated with them, I can say that there are a few solid players in the team who can be brilliant in long formats and one of them is Rahmat Shah. He is someone who has been consistently among the runs in the last few series. Asghar Stanikzai, as well, is known to bat long.
Q. Where does Afghanistan batting stand currently with the Test match in sight?
The Afghan batting is such, if you look at it from their perspective, that they are excited to have the platform to show their talent to the world. But when it comes to preparation, they are no different from the others, be it throwdowns, or the right number of seamers bowling to them and top of all, they face the best spinners in the world in nets.
Moreover, the Afghan batsmen must've been preparing for the Test for almost six weeks now, whereas the Indians were playing IPL. Yes, the Indians are more experienced and can easily switch formats, but this is still an interesting point of view.
Q. What changes the Afghanistan batsmen should make to improve themselves?
They should probably stick to their strengths but when they are being tempted in an area outside their zone, say short deliveries, they should try and take extra time. Knowing them and the way they face challenges, they would want to take on such deliveries but if they absorb that pressure for a session or so and develop the ability to be focussed for a longer period of time, that can really help them.