Asghar Stanikzai

'We have better spinners than India’ – Asghar Stanikzai

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Afghanistan captain backs his Rashid Khan-led attack to deliver in historic Test against India.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai backed his spin bowlers ahead of the team's maiden Test, against India in Bangalore next week, saying that Rashid Khan and the rest were better than the Indian spinners.

Afghanistan are in India to play a one-off Test at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium from 14 to 18 June and Stanikzai’s team have a spin attack headlined by the No.1 bowler on MRF Tyres ICC T20I Player Rankings for bowlers, Rashid, as well as other stars like Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and spin-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Nabi.

“The whole world knows that (we have very good spinners in) Rashid Khan, Mujeeb, Nabi, Rahmat (Shah) and Zahir,” Stanikzai pointed out in a chat with ESPNcricinfo.

India, on the other hand, have Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin in their midst, who are ranked No.4 and No.5 in the Test rankings.

Rashid Khan is No.1 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings for bowlers
Rashid Khan is No.1 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings for bowlers

“In Afghanistan, the brilliant thing is that a lot of the young talent that is coming through are spinners, because they all follow Rashid, they follow Nabi, so because of that our spin department is very strong from below,” Stanikzai said.

“In my opinion, we have good spinners, better spinners than India.”

The Afghanistan spin attack may be short on experience but has variety. While Khan is a leg-spinner with a terrific googly, Mujeeb is a finger spinner who turns the ball both ways, Zahir is a left-arm wrist-spinner, and Nabi and Shah are off-spinners.

The possibility of playing on a spin-friendly surface in Bangalore has also given Mohammad Shahzad, the opening batsman and wicket-keeper, reason to believe that Afghanistan can give competition to the No.1 Test team in the world.

Nabi: Rashid is totally different from other leg-spinners
Nabi: Rashid is totally different from other leg-spinners

“You know what our spinners have been doing of late,” Shahzad said. “Ireland played their (first Test) match against Pakistan, in Ireland's conditions, and gave them a tough time. We are coming here and playing in India's conditions, and that too against a team that plays spin very well. We will have a tough time, for us and for them too. It won't be easy for either team.”

The 19-year-old Rashid, who picked up eight wickets in three games in the recent Twenty20 International series against Bangladesh, holds the key for the visitors.

“He's totally different from other leg-spinners,” Nabi pointed out. “He's quicker in the air. When he bowls the wrong one and the leg-break, it looks same when you play. And the most important thing is that the hand is very quick ... can't judge easily."

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