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Rashid Khan urges Afghanistan to play 'smart cricket' against West Indies

Afg v WI, 1st ODI, news

Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan backed his batsmen to clear the boundary at Lucknow's Ekana International Cricket Stadium against West Indies, but insisted that playing 'smart cricket' was the better option.

Rashid has enjoyed quite a terrific start to his international captaincy career. He led his side to a historic Test win over Bangladesh, followed by back-to-back Twenty20 International wins in a tri-series in Bangladesh, over the hosts and Zimbabwe, before jointly lifting the trophy with the home team, after the final was washed out in Dhaka.

Now, he is gearing up to lead his side for the first time in ODIs since taking over the captaincy mantle for all three formats in the aftermath of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, against West Indies on Wednesday, 6 November.

"We are not big in size, but we hit big sixes," he said on the eve of the opening game. "We have the Afghani power, and this boundary will also be small for us. But we will have to play smart cricket and not focus much on big shots, because on such a big ground, you have to play smart cricket."

For overseas teams touring Asia, facing spin bowling can often be an area of vulnerability. Afghanistan have their share of quality spinners, and West Indies captain Kieron Pollard knows the threat they bring to the table.

"Rashid Khan is a world-class bowler," Pollard told reporters at a press conference, leading up to the ODI series. "It was seen by all of us and all around the world. Again, there is no secret about it. Nabi himself has been doing well, he is a classical off-spinner. Mujeeb has done well for himself."

Rashid, though, refrained from putting too much emphasis on spin, and called on the bowling attack to fire as a unit. "We will not focus on how they are against spin; we will play our best cricket and deliver our best bowling performance," he said.

West Indies, too, come into the series on the back of wholesale changes to the leadership, as part of which Pollard was named full-time limited-overs captain.

"It is an important series as the coach has mentioned," Pollard said. "All cricket for us is important. As a team, we have made some changes and are looking forward to doing well in the series."

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