[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nio9UfAmyO0 [/fve]
Afghanistan on Monday created history in Dehradun by winning their first-ever Test match, that too in just their second encounter in this format. After Australia, England and Pakistan, they are now the fourth quickest Test nation to register their maiden victory.
Nine months back, a team which was blown away by a Virat Kohli-less Indian side within two days in their inaugural Test in Bengaluru, has shown a lot of reliance in this game overcome the Irish challenge.
Yes, as an opponent Ireland are a no match to the Indian team. However, purely in terms of First-Class experience, they are a much superior team that Afghanistan. Almost all the members of Ireland’s Test side play county cricket in England. Tim Murtagh, credited with 761 First-Class wickets, is a veteran for Middlesex. Others like William Porterfield, Paul Stirling, George Dockrell are all renowned names in the English domestic circuit.
On the other hand, prior to this game, the perception of Afghanistan team was of being flamboyant and typical white-ball specialists.
However, this is going to change, courtesy the way the likes of Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, skipper Asghar Afghan and Ihsanullah Janat batted under pressure as well as the spells Rashid Khan and Waqar Salamkheil bowled when Ireland batsmen were putting up some resistance. With an injured finger Rashid bowled 46 overs in the game, which shows his commitment level towards the purest format.
Nevertheless, according to the author, the biggest positive to come out for Afghanistan from this match is the changed attitude of their hard-hitting opener, Mohammad Shahzad. He took time initially to get his eye in at the start of both his innings. You don’t generally expect Shahzad to take 19 balls to open his account. But he transformed his game according to the format.
This victory is a result of a complete team effort. Almost all the members of the Afghan playing XI had chipped in.
“Every format is different. Test has a different flavour to it. We played a lot of T20 and one-day matches and won but Test win was first. The way our guys performed in batting and bowling, the kind of comebacks that we did. The way Rahmat Shah and Ihsanullah batted was outstanding. It shows we are ready for Test cricket. Rashid’s spell yesterday [Sunday], first time taking five wickets, it was a matter of great pride,” explained Mohammad Nabi.
“We won the match because of teamwork. T20 and ODI are different, this is different.”
Furthermore, Nabi also hoped that, as now Afghanistan have won their first Test, a lot of other teams should invite them to play Test cricket.
“When you win, then, the team will tell you to come and play with them. Nobody plays a weak team. They might think that Afghanistan is weak but not so much that we can’t fight them. We have world’s best spinners and we try to concentrate on our batting line-up. If we can put up a good score on board then we are confident of beating any team in the world.”
Now the challenge for Afghanistan is to sustain this Test resilience in their future red-ball assignments. It will earn due respect as a Test team from their opponents. However, for this, they are needed to be exposed against a top quality side in the longest format on a frequent basis, which under the present circumstances, seems a little difficult.