“Their journey has been an inspiration for international cricket,” Dinesh Karthik on Afghanistan
Ahead of the much-awaited debut Test match of Afghanistan that will mark a new chapter in what has been a whirlwind journey for them in the world of cricket, Indian wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik was all praise for the opponent, not just for the recent surge in their on-field performances, but also lauded their journey to gaining the pinnacle mark of acceptance in global cricket, a test status.
“It’s been beautiful, isn’t it?” said Dinesh Karthik, speaking to ICC, clearly impressed by how quickly the Afghans have gone up the ranks in international cricket, having moved beyond the days when they went into invariably all their fixtures as the underdogs.
“Their journey has been an inspiration for international cricket. Everyone knows it’s a tough place and the turmoil that they are going through, but in spite of that, they are able to inspire people with their performances. They’re able to produce big players even in a tournament like the IPL.
“They have some key players who are producing some big performances for them. I’m happy to see a country like that doing so well in cricket. Today, they are household names in the few years they’ve played. It’s only going to get better. I genuinely hope they have the opportunity to play a lot of Test cricket.”
Afghanistan have garnered unparalleled accolades in the past few years, they made it to the 2016 ICC World T20 where they shocked the eventual champions Windies in a group stage match, won the ICC World Cup Qualifiers 2018, stood fourth in the ICC U-19 World Cup, an indication of the fact that they don't just happen to be lucky to have a bunch of strong performers playing at the same time but the future too is bright. The recent feather on their cap was the white-wash inflicted upon the Bangladeshis in a three T20I series in Dehradun.
However, it will be interesting to see how they fare in a format that is an entirely different game. They do not have much exposure to the longest variant of the game other than the Intercontinental Cup and their domestic first-class tournament, where a lot of cricketers are semi-professionals given the nascent stages of cricket in the country. Their spinners, who have thrived against batsmen looking to score runs will be challenged in a game where patience trumps everything.
Nevertheless, they are a tough unit, having seen a lot of challenges extrinsic from cricket in their journey so far, their hardened characters might give them the resolve that so often happens to be the difference between two sides in test match cricket. No matter how they turn out in their maiden game, it will be a red-letter day not just in their sporting realms, but the history of their country as well in the face of all the friction that has gone on there incessantly.