Afghanistan looking forward to playing in Test matches after ICC Intercontinental Cup win

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Test cricket ahead for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai insists his team is relishing the opportunity of testing themselves in Test cricket after they bid farewell to the four-day format by regaining the ICC Intercontinental Cup on Saturday.

Resuming play on 201-3, the UAE were all out for 331 with Rashid Khan the pick of the bowlers with figures of 5-83. It meant Afghanistan needed 19 runs to prevail and did so with 10 wickets to spare by reaching their target in 5.3 overs with unbeaten knocks from openers Ihansullah (18) and Javed Ahmadi (2) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

It was the second time Afghanistan has won this competition but greater tests will now lie await for the team when they showcase their talent against the elite international sides over the five-day format.

Afghanistan Cricket Board are still in discussions on when they will make their Test debut but Stanikzai says his players are ready for the “tough journey” ahead.

“We have a very tough journey to come and that is Tests of course,” said the 30-year-old, who scored a century in the first innings. “Especially when we play against big sides, it will be tough for us. We are getting prepared for that stage.

“The Intercontinental Cup is a good example because we have finished at the top of the standings. Three times we have played the I-Cup, and twice we have won the trophy. The guys are working very hard and in our domestic cricket, we have some very good talent coming through. As a unit, we are getting prepared very well for the Tests, mentally and physically.”

Despite their success in the longer format, which saw them win six of their seven matches in the I-Cup, he warned it will take time to make the transition against stronger opposition.

“It will be a little bit difficult in the first two Test matches that we play but after this, the guys will adjust just like how they have done in other formats. Inshallah, we will perform well and physically we are ready.”

UAE head coach Dougie Brown was impressed with the quality he saw of the champions and has backed them to make a big impact.

“They’ve got a good side, they’ve got a good method,” said the 48-year-old. “They have got a lot of good players and have strength in depth. They got funding and can spend time, money and energy in bringing through strength in depth which they will need when they compete on the world stage.

“They have obviously shown they can beat anybody. They just beat West Indies in a ODI match. Rashid Khan is world class. If he can get the right type of pitch against any opposition, he is going to be a handful. I think they will do really well. I think they will make great strides very quickly when they play Test matches.”

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Smith undone by debutant and other talking points of an enthralling first day at Adelaide

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Steve Smith fell to debutant Craig Overton on the first day.

The first ever day-night Test in Ashes history got underway at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday. Hosts Australia were coming into the game with a 1-0 lead after picking up a 10-wicket victory in the opening Test at the Gabba.

England meanwhile were fighting against history have overturned a 1-0 deficit in any Ashes series Down Under only twice before.

At the end of the day, Steve Smith’s men were well placed at 209-4 with Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh at the crease. Here, we look at the key talking points of an eventful first day.

JOE ROOT’S BRAVE CALL

With a first-innings average score of 430 since 2000 at the Adelaide Oval, one would think that batting first would be the normal thing to do after winning the toss.

England skipper Joe Root though, delivered a surprise when he put the Aussies into bat after getting the rub of the green in the toss. Overcast conditions and overnight rain might have played a factor in Root’s decision but only time will tell if it was a brave call or a regrettable one.

ENGLAND COME ALIVE UNDER THE LIGHTS

Despite losing Cameron Bancroft early to a bizarre run-out, Australia had started strong with David Warner and Usman Khawaja getting going nicely.

Australia’s batsmen had clearly been on the front-foot for the first half of the day but England found some joy once the lights came on at the Adelaide Oval.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad were a completely different proposition under the lights. Eventually the pressure told for Australia as they lost Khawaja and Smith in the final session of the day.

ANDERSON GETS CHIRPY

Before the start of the game, England’s leading pace Anderson had compared the hosts’ behavior to that of bullies. Smith had hit back at the 500-wicket man by saying that the Englishman was no angel himself on the field.

Hence it was no surprise that Anderson was a bit chirpier than usual when Smith arrived at the crease. Root inventively stationed Anderson at mid-on right next to the non-striker. There the 35-year-old wasted no time in getting engaged in a war of words with Smith and it had to take umpire Aleem Dar’s intervention to separate the two.

Anderson had some more words at stumps for Handscomb as they departed off the field. You can expect the friction to only increase come day two.

SMITH FALLS TO DEBUTANT

Craig Overton was handed his maiden Test cap as he was brought into the side in place of Jake Ball. The 23-year-old has impressed for Somerset this year and he sure had a debut to remember on Saturday.

The right-arm pacer had bowled excellently throughout the day and had troubled Smith on a couple of occasions. Smith had weathered the storm and was threatening to take the game once away from the Englishmen when Overton got the big breakthrough.

The Australian skipper played on to a harmless length delivery to hand Overton a maiden scalp to remember forever. Getting Australia’s best batsmen as your first Test wicket in an Ashes series to boot is the stuff of dreams for an Englishman.

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Kohli continues to set new landmarks after latest ton against Sri Lanka

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Kohli broke numerous records during his unbeaten 154-run knock.

With Steve Smith smashing records with the cricket bat, it seems Indian skipper Virat Kohli does not want to be left behind as he sets new landmarks of his own.

The 29-year-old batsman scored an unbeaten 156 runs off just 186 deliveries on the opening day of India’s final Test against Sri Lanka in New Delhi.

The hosts had ended the day strongly at 371-4 when stumps were drawn. The day clearly belonged to Kohli though who breached numerous milestones during his splendid innings.

5,000 TEST RUNS

In the course of his innings, Kohli went past the 5,000 Test runs mark, becoming the 10th Indian batsmen to do so.

The right-hander became the fourth fastest Indian to the landmark with the 105 innings it took him to get there. Only Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have been quicker than Kohli to the mark.

THREE CONSECUTIVE TONS

Kohli was coming into the match on the back of a double-ton in Kolkata and a hundred in Nagpur. As he notched up his 20th Test century on Saturday, the Delhi-born man had registered three hundreds in as many innings.

With this, he became the first captain in history to hit a century in all three Tests of a three-match series. He also became the first batsman to hit three consecutive Test tons twice in Test history having achieved the same previously against Australia in 2014-15.

FASTEST TO 16,000 INTERNATIONAL RUNS

Kohli also breached the 16,000-run mark in international cricket in front of his home crowd in Delhi. He created a new record with this feat as he became the fastest man in history to do so.

The 350 innings it took Kohli to cross the figure beat the previous quickest 163 innings taken by South Africa’s Hashim Amla.

FASTEST TEST TON FOR KOHLI

The 110 deliveries it took Kohli to bring up his three-figures on Saturday is the quickest of his 20 Test hundreds to date. The Indian skipper was in sublime touch from the very first ball he faced as he brought up his eighth Test 150.

With Vijay scoring big too, it was the first instance of two Indian batsmen scoring 150 plus in a day’s play of Test cricket.

KOHLI’S SUBLIME 2017

With his ton on Saturday, the Indian superstar now has 11 hundreds in all formats in 2017. The century was Kohli’s fifth of the year in the five-day format while he has another six in the ODI format.

Kohli now has a staggering 2,681 runs in all formats in the calendar year which is the highest for any Indian player in history. The previous best was 2,626 runs set by Rahul Dravid almost 18 years ago.

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