All the talk ahead of the highly-anticipated one-off Test has revolved around Afghanistan’s spin-contingent with skipper Asghar Stanikzai going as far as saying that his spinners are better than their Indian counterparts.
However, spin is not the only weapon at the disposal of the Afghans. While the limelight remains on the bowlers such as Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman, we take a look at the Afghanistan batsmen to watch out for.
The 30-year old Afghan skipper is one of the most experienced players in the squad with 86 ODIs, 54 T20Is and 23 first-class matches under his belt.
A proven performer with the bat for Afghanistan, Stanikzai’s average in limited-overs cricket is 22 but there is no denying his importance in Afghanistan’s line-up.
Stanikzai has slammed five tons and three half-centuries in his 23-match first-class career and he has the ability to the play the long innings in the five-day format.
Afghanistan’s version of MS Dhoni, Mohammad Shahzad has been the heartbeat of the side during their remarkable rise in world cricket.
The 30-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman has five centuries to his name in limited-overs international cricket (four in ODIs and one in T20Is) and packs a punch with the bat.
While his reputation as a limited-overs batsman is fearsome, Shahzad is no mug when it comes to first-class cricket. The Afghan averages over 55 in 20 first-class matches and has registered four tons in the format including a highest score of 214 not out.
The 33-year-old is the most experienced man in the Afghanistan squad when it comes to international cricket with 98 ODIs, 63 T20Is and 32 first-class matches under his belt.
While his off-spin will definitely be handy in the Test, Nabi has it in him to make a valuable contribution with the bat too.
He will be tasked with propelling Afghanistan’s middle-order in the Test and has shown that he has the aptitude for red-ball cricket with two centuries in the first-class format.
Ihsanullah might be one of the youngest faces in the batting line-up but in his short career so far, he has shown enough potential.
The 20-year-old has played only 10 ODIs so far for Afghanistan but it is his performances in the longer format that have caught the eye.
Averaging over 50 runs in first-class cricket, Ihsanullah has registered one century and three half-centuries in nine innings so far in the format.
Last year, he starred in a 197-run stand for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah to lead Afghanistan to a victory over UAE in the final of the Intercontinental Cup at Abu Dhabi.
The two arch-rivals and neighbours have gone on to produce some classic encounters over the years with the rivalry being one of the fiercest in the cricketing world.
India’s Sachin Tendulkar and Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq are two legends of the game who have been involved in many famous battles between the two countries and the former has revealed the respect shown to him by the latter during a recent talk show.
The Indian batting legend recently appeared on an episode of the cricket-based show ‘Walk the Talk’ and recounted a touching incident during one of India’s tours of Pakistan.
According to the ‘Master Blaster’, ahead of a match at Lahore, Inzamam had revealed that his son was a big fan of the India superstar.
Sachin Tendulkar "We had a practice session in Lahore & before we began Inzi brought his son to me & said 'He's a big fan & wants to meet you'. With the rivarly we had & Inzi was Pakistan captain, to say something like this to a player from the other team takes a lot" #Cricket— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) June 9, 2018
“We had a practice session in Lahore and before we began Inzi brought his son to me & said ‘He’s a big fan and wants to meet you’. With the rivalry we had and Inzi was Pakistan captain, to say something like this to a player from the other team takes a lot,” Tendulkar explained during the show.
Both Sachin and Inzamam were titans for their country during their playing days with the former going on to register over 33,000 runs in international cricket, while the latter himself garnered over 20,000 during his illustrious career.
While Inzamam’s son remains a big fan of Tendulkar, the Mumbai-born maestro’s son has followed in the footsteps of his famous father by taking up the game professionally. Arjun Tendulkar was recently selected for the India U19 squad which will tour Sri Lanka in July.
UAE businessman Ajay Sethi, who won the rights to own the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars team in the now altered T20 Global League, has said he continues to be a part of South Africa’s T20 league ambitions. This despite reports that previous owners will not be a part of a relaunched T20 league by Cricket South Africa.
The South African board had launched an ambitious plan for a T20 tournament last year with prominent team owners from across the globe, including three from the Indian Premier League and two from the Pakistan Super League. Sethi, the Channel 2 group chairman, was the owner of the team that was to be based in Port Elizabeth but the tournament didn’t take off due to commercial and broadcast issues.
This week, the South African board started afresh by launching a new T20 league in partnership with broadcaster SuperSport. However, there are reports that none of the original team owners will be a part of the new endeavour and that their original deposit of $250,000 has been returned.
Sethi, however, said he remains a committed team owner of South Africa’s T20 league.
“I am happy to hear that CSA has joined hands with SuperSport as we were waiting for the same media deal. Let us wait for the next step from CSA. We stay committed as Nelson Mandela Bay Stars team owner,” Sethi told Sport360.
When asked whether refunding their despot money means an end of the partnership between him and the South African board, Sethi said: “The refund was our bid money which was refundable anyhow. We will wait for CSA to reply. Only I can comment as they can’t take us out as team owners.”