Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai changes his name to Asghar Afghan

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Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has changed his name

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has changed his name to Asghar Afghan in ‘honour of protecting the national identity of Afghan citizens’.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board confirmed the name change on their Twitter account on Thursday after the batsman had registered for the new Electronic National Identity Card.

Stanikzai has been an instrumental figure for the national team, scoring more than 2,000 international runs since making his debut in 2009.

The Kabul-born player has featured in one Test, 86 ODIs and 54 T20Is in a remarkable journey that saw Afghanistan qualify for the 2015 World Cup and achieve Test status.

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Former India captain Sourav Ganguly asks Afghanistan to not lose hope after inaugural Test defeat

Sudhir Gupta 18/06/2018
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Ganguly believes the Afghans will get there with time.

Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly said Afghanistan should not be disheartened by the two-day defeat to India in their inaugural Test.

Writing in his column for the Times of India, Ganguly said that Asghar Stanikzai’s men can only improve after losing by an innings and 262 runs.

“No surprises were thrown up at the Chinnaswamy Stadium but at the same time not many expected that the India-Afghanistan Test match would get over in just two days. The Afghan boys shouldn’t worry about how long the Test lasted but should rewind the entire two days to realise what they need to do to get better in the longer format of the game,” Ganguly wrote.

“This has happened with many other teams. When Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe were inducted into Test cricket, their initial days were also sketchy.

“It is with time that they got better. Afghanistan, and for that matter the other new entrant, Ireland, will have to be given more time to understand and come to terms with the demands of the longest format of the game. With time they will learn.”

Test cricket’s latest entrants lost 20 wickets in a single day at Bengaluru and Ganguly said Afghanistan batsmen need to have more patience if they are to succeed.

Afghanistan in a huddle during the Test. Image - BCCI.

Afghanistan in a huddle during the Test. Image – BCCI/Twitter.

“The Afghans were still in T20 mode and the lack of footwork was pretty apparent when they played pace bowling. Umesh Yadav bowled good pace and it did put doubts in the batters’ minds. Test cricket is about patience and proper shot selection. As much as solid shots, judgment outside the off stump and letting deliveries go is very important to succeed and in time and with proper coaching they will learn,” the 45-year-old wrote.

Afghanistan superstar and No1 ranked T20 bowler Rashid Khan had a harsh introduction to Test cricket with the leg-spinner finishing with figures of 2-154. Ganguly believes the 19-year-old can learn a lot about the format by talking to former India leg-spinner Anil Kumble.

“Rashid Khan bowled well in patches and it must have been a good learning exercise for him bowling those long spells. He needs to give the champion [Anil] Kumble a ring as he is not far away,” wrote Ganguly.

“Test cricket is about bowling maidens and putting pressure back on the opposition, especially when batsmen are not coming at you, as it happens in T20,” he added.

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Why Ireland were better than Afghanistan in their inaugural Tests

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Afghanistan‘s inaugural Test against India had a lot riding on it. It was seen as the next step in the super-charged rise of Afghanistan in international cricket and also the third installment of ‘minnows’ challenging the big boys at the international stage.

Ireland challenged Pakistan in their first Test in Dublin, losing by five wickets after threatening to turn the tables. Thereafter, Scotland stunned world No1 ODI team England by six runs after scoring 371-5 in Edinburgh.

Afghanistan were expected by many, including this writer, to challenge world No1 Test side India in Bengaluru but they ended up capitulating inside two days in one of the most one-sided matches in the 21st century.

So why were Ireland competitive against Pakistan while Afghanistan’s failed to reach the half-way point?

CONDITIONS

Afsar Zazai is bowled by Ishant Sharma . Image: BCCI.

Afsar Zazai is bowled by Ishant Sharma . Image: BCCI.

The pitch for the Dublin Test was just what Ireland needed to remain in the match against Pakistan. The wicket had just about enough grass to keep their quicks interested without giving too much of an advantage to Mohammad Amir and Co. And then it flattened out enough for Kevin O’Brien to score a superlative century.

India completely negated Afghanistan’s spin threat by playing the Bengaluru Test on a true pitch that had good pace and bounce, keeping fast bowlers in the hunt. Had it been a dustbowl, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman could have been deadly.

Pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav moved the ball at good pace and got enough purchase from the wicket, which was too much for the debutants.

FIRST-CLASS EXPERIENCE

When Ireland prepared for their Test bow, they had more first-class experience than Pakistan. The combined first-class tally of the Irish team amounted to 1103 matches, which was more than that of Pakistan – 799 matches.

Compare that to Afghanistan who gave limited-overs star Mujeeb ur Rahman a Test cap while knowing he hadn’t played any first-class game.

Ireland’s players have spent years in first-class cricket and the county circuit, which helped them maintain pace in a Test match while Afghanistan struggled to slow the game down when India gained the upper hand.

OPPONENTS

Afghanistan played the No1 Test team in the world. And India have become the No1 team because they have been consistent and clinical for a couple of seasons. Even though India were without regular captain Virat Kohli, keeper Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Shami, the rest of the line-up has been playing quality Test cricket and knows how to get back on its feet quicker than other teams.

Pakistan are mercurial at best in Test cricket and they went into the tour of England and Ireland with a limited-overs side hoping to get them acclimatised to conditions of next year’s World Cup in England. That reduced the gap between the two teams in Dublin.

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