He has seen the rise of the Afghanistan Cricket team from ICC’s World Cricket League Division Five to becoming an ODI and a T20 playing nation. And Mohamad Nabi is excited as Afghanistan is going to play its first ever test match against India. One of the key players behind Afghanistan’s success, Nabi, has defied the odds to help the national team take a flight in the international platform. The all-rounder from Afghanistan, who is now playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL, gave time to CricketSoccer.com for an exclusive interview.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): In three weeks time, Afghanistan will be playing their first ever test match. How is the feeling?
Mohammad Nabi (MN): Look, I always believe that we are ready to play test cricket. We have played three intercontinental cups, which comprises four-day matches. Most significantly, we have lost just one match and that too in the final against Ireland. People have an opinion that Afghanistan can only play shorter format of the game. But we know that we have the capability to do well even in the longer version. So, the match against India is going to be a historical moment, a milestone and we have to prove a point or two in this match.
CS: Could you please explain?
MN: See, if you go by names and records on paper, it’s pretty true that India, in test format, is much more ahead of us. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will surrender on the field. Rather we will fight it till the end. We are quite impressed the way Ireland cricketers fought it out against a strong Pakistan side. We may lose the game against India. But we will leave no stone unturned to prove that we are here in the test cricket arena to stay. The match wouldn’t be a one-sided affair.
CS: You have witnessed the rise of Afghanistan cricket over the last few years. What is the most impressive aspect of this rise?
MN: The most impressive aspect is that the youngsters have perfectly fit into the team after the retirement of senior players. Against test playing nations like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh. During the World T20 in India, when we played against top teams, it didn’t feel like an Associate team is playing. It felt like a proper Test nation is playing. And when we beat West Indies, it was a big thing for us and a great moment. It made us believe that we can compete with the best in the cricketing world. It was a milestone match for Afghanistan cricket.
CS: What are the areas that should be taken care of in Afghanistan cricket?
MN: As we get Test status there will be more funds now. Whatever funds flow in, they have to be invested in cricket and not other things. Whatever money you involve, use it for cricket. There are five regions which play home and away. There is a three-day and two-day tournament once a year. There are gradually two tournaments and T20 Leagues. There are currently two Leagues in operation – Peace and Million. To make it strong, you need strong players. There should be strong competition with the national players participating along with the local team players. When players like us play with the teams from the five regions in the domestic competition, they will improve further and the experience that we share will make the first-class structure stronger. If we play against a Test playing nation, then we will practice like a Test nation. Carry out fitness like them and then we can ultimately reach that level.
CS: Virat Kohli will not be playing the test match against you. Could this be a setback as far as the importance of the game is concerned?
MN: It’s entirely up to BCCI. It’s their prerogative to decide which players will play against us and who will not be able to. They have selectors for this job. On our part, we will ensure that we play to our potential. We have to back ourselves and play good cricket.