By R Kaushik in Colombo
Afghanistan captain paints confident picture ahead of match against India
“Definitely, India is a big team. We are very excited and looking forward to this game,” said Mangal. “If you see our immediate past performances, the boys have been playing really well. We had a few (50-over) games against Test nations, so tomorrow you will see a different team from what you saw in the last World Cup. It will have a totally different appearance."
Afghanistan received a blow of sorts after Hamid Hassan, its principal strike bowler, was ruled out of the India game through injury. Hassan, 25, has 14 T20I wickets from eight games at an economy of 5.82, and his absence will leave a huge void in the Afghan line-up. Mangal, though, begged to differ. “Hamid Hassan is carrying an injury,” said Mangal of his paceman, who didn’t play in either of Afghanistan’s warm-up games. “But we are very confident that we have a real good bowling attack to cope with any kind of pressure. Unfortunately, he won’t be a part of the game tomorrow, but it won’t affect our plans hugely.”
Mangal said his team had worked out plans to tackle R Ashwin, the primary Indian spinner. “We have done real good homework, especially against spinners,” said Mangal. “We have done brilliantly in the past against quality spinners. We played (Saeed) Ajmal in the Pakistan game, and we played (Sunil) Narine yesterday. We haven’t seen any difficulties. We have done our homework against Ashwin, hopefully the batters can cope up with the pressure and deliver to the plans.” Ajmal finished with figures of 10-1-32-0 in a 50-over international in Sharjah in February, while Narine took 2 for 23 from four overs in the T20 warm-up game on Monday.
“I would say the Twenty20 format is a suitable format for my team,” added Mangal. “The shorter format game needs three batsmen or two bowlers to click on that particular day. We are here to get some exposure and prove that we belong to this stage. We have learned a lot since the last ICC World Twenty20. After that, we played Pakistan and Australia and according to the cricket experts, the performances were good. The India game is one from which we can learn a lot. We can put up another good show and give them a hard time.
“It’s a learning phase for us. Coming into this World Cup, the expectations are quite high. Everyone is saying Afghanistan is capable of creating an upset. The boys have done brilliantly since the last World Cup and we have proved ourselves. We have much improved cricketers now in all three departments – bowling, batting and fielding.”