Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai says his team has better spinners than India

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Rashid Khan with Asghar Stanikzai.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has upped the ante ahead of his country’s inaugural Test against India by claiming his team have better spinners than India.

The Afghans will take on India in Bengaluru from June 14 and they are confident of giving Indian batsmen a tough time as they have in-form spinners in Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman who were on fire during the recently concluded IPL.

For the record, India spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin are ranked fourth and fifth in the ICC rankings for Test bowlers.

“The whole world knows that we have good spinners in Rashid Khan, Mujeeb, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah, Zahir Khan,” Stanikzai was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “In Afghanistan, the brilliant thing is that a lot of the young talent that is coming through are spinners, because they all follow Rashid, they follow Nabi. So because of that our spin department is very strong. In my opinion, we have good spinners, better spinners than India.”

India will be without regular captain Virat Kohli, who is out due to a back injury, and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha who has a finger injury.

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Rashid Khan holds his nerve in last over as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by one run

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A key role: Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan kept his nerve to bowl an excellent last over and help Afghanistan seal a thrilling one-run win against Bangladesh and compete a 3-0 series whitewash on Thursday.

Needing 146 to win, the visitors required nine runs in the 20th over but the batsmen could not manage a way past Rashid as they reached 144-6.

Mushfiqur Rahim (46) and Mahmudullah Riyad (45) put together a 84-run fifth-wicket partnership to give Bangladesh hope.

Mushfiqur hit five fours in the penultimate over but fell to Khan’s leg spin on the first delivery of the final over. His team-mate Mahmudullah tried to hit four runs but was denied by Shafiqullah Shafiq’s acrobatic work to get run out.

Earlier, Samiullah Shenwari made an unbeaten 33 to lift his side to 145-6 for Afghanistan after they elected to bat first.

The ‘hosts’ were in trouble at 101-4 but Shenwari’s 28-ball knock saw them reach a competitive total.

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Afghanistan spin prodigy Mujeeb ur Rahman says cricket is his 'language'

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Mujeeb is the latest Afghan spinner to rise to prominence.

Afghanistan have made a habit of producing quality spinners in their short cricketing history so far with the rise of Rashid Khan being the prime example.

While Rashid continues to make waves in international and franchise cricket, another Afghan teenager in the form of Mujeeb ur Rahman has taken the cricketing world by storm since making his bow.

The 17-year-old prodigy had a highly successful maiden stint in the IPL with Kings XI Punjab this year where he picked up 14 wickets in 11 matches at an economy-rate of only 6.99 before an injury to his bowling hand saw him miss out in the final stages of the competition. Such was Mujeeb’s instant impact that even the likes of Virat Kohli struggled to pick up his subtle variations.

The youngster, however, has recovered just in time for Afghanistan’s maiden Test against India in Bengaluru and has already bowled two highly economical spells in the two T20Is against Bangladesh at Dehradun so far.

Unlike many in the Afghan side, Mujeeb comes from a family with a cricketing background after his uncle Noor Ali Zadran featured in the country’s debut ODI against Scotland in 2009.

“I used to bowl to my uncle from a very young age. And I bowled with a mindset that I was already playing at the international level. Right from the beginning, I got a chance to bowl to international players,” told the Times of India on the sidelines of the ongoing series against Bangladesh.

Mujeeb picked up 14 wickets in the IPL. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Mujeeb picked up 14 wickets in the IPL. Image – IPL/Twitter.

The youngster is already going places in T20 cricket after his maiden IPL stint and will turn up for Hampshire in the T20 Blast. When asked how he communicated with his new international stars, Mujeeb said that cricket was his language of communication.

“Cricket is my language. I bank on my cricketing knowledge. I understand what is being told to me, the language doesn’t matter. I understand cricketing stuff,” he stated.

One of the more unconventional spinners going around in cricket currently, the teenager also revealed the spinners whom he had grown up watching as a young child.

“I watched Ajantha Mendis, Sunil Narine and Ravichandran Ashwin bowling different type of balls. That fascinated me. I kept watching the videos and grew with it,” Mujeeb stated.

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