Afghanistan is all set to embark into the traditional format of the game, Test cricket, when they will take on the No.1, ranked India in their historic maiden Test match this June, and young leg-spin sensation Rashid Khan said he “can't wait to be called a Test cricketer”.
In June last year, Afghanistan along with Ireland, who even already played their maiden Test against Pakistan last week, awarded Test status by International Cricket Council, and Rashid said it is a proud achievement for all Afghanis, and an honor to play against such a big team –India in their maiden Test.
Meanwhile, the 19-year-old is currently plying his trade for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the ongoing IPL 2018 and has been part of the franchise for last two years. Besides Rashid, other two players from the country Mohammed Nabi and Mujeeb ur-Rahman are also playing in the tournament, which would certainly help Afghanistan to counter Indian attack in the one-off Test next month.
As per reports in Times of India, Rashid said, “Playing Test cricket is the dream of every country and player. It is a huge honor and achieving this (Test status) in a short time is a proud achievement for all of us. It will be a big moment for cricket in Afghanistan to play a Test against India. I can't wait to be called a Test cricketer. I think there will be no one who will not watch the match (on television) back home. People in Afghanistan are crazy about cricket.”
The war-ravaged Afghanistan has set-up their homes base in India over the past couple of years, and Rashid said of the mood of players in Greater Noida camp, “We have a 30-member team practicing at Greater Noida. Everyone is keenly awaiting the Test match. It is an opportunity for us to showcase our skills. We will be tested on how good we are and if we are good enough to play Test cricket. For us as a team, it is a big challenge. The boys are working hard. I hope we will do well in the match and give a tough fight to India.”
It is known that Afghanistan's success has heavily depended on the spin bowling and Rashid feels, “Every team has its strengths. Everyone knows Afghanistan has the best spin bowling attack because of which we have won a lot of matches. We have been working hard on fast bowling and batting departments as well.”
Meanwhile, Captain Virat Kohli will not play Afghanistan’s maiden Test; will be in England for his County stint, and it might a little relief for the touring side. But Rashid feels that they can't relax just because certain class players are not playing, saying Afghanistan wants to play an excellent brand of cricket in India to prove they deserve the Test status.
He further added, “In Test cricket, anyone can give you a tough time. You can't relax just because certain class players are not playing. In the longer format, you have to take even a fast bowler seriously because he can make a hundred against you because he has a lot of time. Our focus will be on playing good cricket and to prove that we deserve the Test status given to us.”
Rashid signed off by saying, “We are hoping to get more games against the big teams. And have a long series, not like one or two ODIs. It's a tough challenge for us. We can say real cricket has started now (for Afghanistan).”