Bangladesh knows the feeling of making a debut better than anyone else. 18 years ago, they were given Test match status and played their first match against India.
In the game, they scored a highly respectable score of 400 in the first innings and competed extremely well till the third day, before getting all out for just 91 in their second essay and losing the game to the much-experienced Indian side, who were led by Sourav Ganguly for the first time. They were given a harsh lesson in Test cricket; and realized that they were just not ripe for it, at the time.
18 years later, one of their mainstays who has seen the lowest of lows and some surprising high points of his nation's journey in Test cricket, Shakib Al Hasan has come out and expressed his view that Afghanistan is better prepared for Tests than they were, and are likely to do well in Test cricket.
Shakib was recently quoted saying, ahead of playing against the eighth-ranked T20I side in a three-match series in Dehradun, that "They have come a long way, especially in the last few years. They have world-class players in the squad and they deserve the Test status,"
Shakib knows how tough this transition is, Bangladesh have only won 10 of their 106 Test matches so far and the team has just started to really compete at home against the top sides. Afghanistan is not as badly prepared for it, with a first-class domestic structure back home and regular exposure of international cricket to their players, they should be able to compete in their early years better than what Bangladesh did.
Shakib believes playing regularly at the top level, across various conditions, and against varied teams, will only help further. He said, "As long as they play the top teams regularly irrespective of the format. That should give them enough exposure."
One of the habits that international sides have is the pertinent need to focus only on the present. Their coach Phil Simmons understands the need to prioritize this month's historic Test but also wants his team to be prepared for the three-game T20 series on hands.
He recently said, "They have exceeded expectations in the shorter formats in the last five-six years and there is no reason why they can't do it in Tests even though it is a lot tougher than ODIs and T20s,"