Team hoping to send a message by doing well in Asia Cup: Shahidi

Photo: ACB

Afghanistan will start their World Cup preparations next week when they meet Bangladesh in a three-match ODI series from Wednesday, July 5, at Chattogram.

In an interview with Cricbuzz this week, Afghanistan’s captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said the team is struggling in Tests, but had opted for a more aggressive approach to ODIs.

“It’s true we play a lot of white ball cricket and it becomes difficult to adjust when we come to red-ball cricket. Look, the more we play Tests the more we will improve and we need to play Tests quite regularly because if you are playing one Test in a year or two Tests in two years it is difficult to improve,” he said.

He stated that while the team played first-class cricket in Afghanistan, “there is a difference between Test cricket and domestic cricket and there is no doubt over it.”

Shahidi said the team has played six Tests in four years and that they have beaten Zimbabwe, Ireland and Bangladesh. He went on to say “if the ICC gives us lot of Tests we will improve as a team.”

On Rashid Khan missing matches due to his busy franchise league commitments, Shahidi said the star leg spinner was “like a one-man-army” and that the team did miss him.

“Rashid is certainly the best bowler of Afghanistan across formats. He is like an one-man-army performing all the time. Look, we miss the impact of Rashid and even against Bangladesh we missed him. We missed in the Sri Lanka ODIs as well before the Bangladesh Test. He is a wonderful bowler and anyone would like to have him all the time.”

On their evolving game, Shahidi said when the team played ODIs on “home ground”, including India and Dubai, over the past few years, the “wicket was prepared by us and it was natural that we would go for spin oriented wicket that is slow where 240 or 250 runs was enough.

“In the last two years we have played only one home series while we went to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and we are now in Bangladesh. Now ODIs template are different as 300 to 320 runs are scored and we would play according to the wicket like if it is a 300 wicket we need to play that way and if it’s a 200-run wicket we need play accordingly,” he said.

He added that now the team needs to assess the situation and adapt play to suit the “changing roles”.

On teammate Ibrahim Zadran, he said him joining the team “fills the void that we were missing in the ODIs.”

Elaborating on this, Shahidi said Zadran was someone “who opens and plays the anchor role as well as accelerates at times when required because he has shots in his possession and more importantly we wanted consistency. He is consistent and has good technique and hopefully will improve with passing days.”

On the younger members of the team, Shahidi pointed out that those who have joined the team in the past two years “are doing well”, which is proving to be Afghanistan’s strength and the younger players “compliment the seniors”.

He mentioned Farooqi “who is doing well” and Azmat and Omarzai “who we feel can contribute both with bat and ball”. In addition there is Ibrahim and Gurbaz, “so what I feel is that when we go to the World Cup our performances will be better than what we did in the previous occasions. We are going there to do something and it is not like we are going just to be a part of it.”

Shahidi noted that the upcoming Asia Cup is a big event and if the team does well it will send a message to the world “that we are coming for the World Cup.

“We have the confidence to do well in Asia Cup and take that confidence to the World Cup. We are also looking at the Bangladesh series because from now onwards every game will be crucial for us leading up to the World Cup,” he said.