India won’t take Afghanistan lightly on their Test debut, says Ajinkya Rahane

Rahane is ready for the challenge of new boys Afghanistan.
Updated 13 June 2018
0

India won’t take Afghanistan lightly on their Test debut, says Ajinkya Rahane

  • Afghanistan to make Test debut against Indians in Bangalore.
  • Rahane knows all too well perils of underestimating a hungry new side.

BANGALORE: Top-ranked India will be “ruthless” and not take Afghanistan lightly when they make their Test debut in Bangalore, skipper Ajinkya Rahane said.
It will be a historic moment for Asghar Stanikzai’s team when they step out on Thursday for their maiden five-day outing against the world’s number one Test side.
But Rahane, who is standing in as captain for Virat Kohli, said there was no room for complacency in cricket.
“We are not ging to take Afghanistan lightly. They have a decent team ... bowlers (are good),” he said on the eve of the one-off Test.
“As a Test team we cannot take anyone for granted because cricket is a funny game. We want to go out there and be ruthless.
“We are going to focus on our strengths, our positives. We are not thinking about Afghanistan as well: yes, we respect them as our opponent but it’s important for us to go out there and give more than our 100 percent,” said the top-order batsman.
The strife-torn nation secured Test status last year along with Ireland, who lost their debut match to Pakistan in Dublin last month.
Since gaining ODI status in 2009 the Afghans have made giant strides and qualified for their second 50-over World Cup in England and Wales next year. They have also been part of four Twenty20 World Cups.
Rahane said it would be an “honor” for every Indian player to be part of the match and acknowledged Afghanistan’s big moment on the cricket field.
Stanikzai has insisted that his team’s spin department led by teen sensation Rashid Khan is better than India’s.
Khan, the top T20 bowler in ICC rankings, took the Indian Premier League by storm with his 21 wickets for runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad, and mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman also impressed in the cash-rich tournament.
Rahane refused to draw comparisons between the spin attacks of the two teams, but praised the experience of India’s Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as well as the talent of Kuldeep Yadav.
“Every member of their team believes that their side is good, that their bowling attack or their batting unit is much better,” Rahane said.
“We all know the stats but we don’t focus on them. Our spinners, Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep are experienced and quality spinners.”
Rahane, who captained Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, said it was important now for his team’s players to switch mentally from T20 mode to playing in the longest format.
“A couple of practice session were fantastic after coming back from the IPL,” he said.
“It’s important we play our minds rather than skills, because getting back to Test from T20 cricket is all about tuning your mind rather than focusing on your skills.”


Lionel Messi under pressure once again at World Cup as Ronaldo tops goals charts

Updated 7 min 33 sec ago
0

Lionel Messi under pressure once again at World Cup as Ronaldo tops goals charts

YEKATERINBURG: Lionel Messi is under pressure to deliver when Argentina face Croatia on Thursday after his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo streaked clear at the top of the World Cup goalscoring charts.
The Barcelona forward had a first game to forget, failing to convert a penalty as the two-time world champions drew 1-1 with Iceland in their Group D opener.
In stark contrast, Ronaldo, who last month won his fifth Champions League winner’s medal, now has four goals in Russia and looks a shoo-in to win his sixth world player of the year award.
Elsewhere on Thursday, 1998 champions France can virtually ensure progress from Group C with a win against Peru, while Australia need to bounce back against Denmark after losing to Les Bleus.
Messi’s teammates have rallied around their superstar captain after his disappointing performance against Iceland.
He is bearing the weight of expectations as Argentina seek a first World Cup trophy since 1986, desperate to crown his glittering career with a major international tournament success.
A defeat against the Luka Modric-led Croatians in Nizhny Novgorod could see Argentina, unthinkably, flirting with a first exit at the group stage since 2002.
“We are all with him, he knows that he can count on the support of all of us more than ever,” said Argentina striker Paulo Dybala of Messi.
“We are here to help him every moment, and of course we will be at his side.”
Croatia secured three points in a 2-0 win against Nigeria in their opening game but enter the match under a cloud.
AC Milan striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home from Russia for reportedly refusing to come on as a substitute, though coach Zlatko Dalic said the AC Milan man had a back injury.
France, who edged past Australia 2-1 courtesy of an Antoine Griezmann penalty and an own goal in their Group C opener, vowed to ramp up the intensity against Peru in Yekaterinburg.
“We took stock of what was done well or not so well and all agree that we will have to increase our physical intensity and improve our attitude in general,” said vice-captain and central defender Raphael Varane.
“Other teams (among the favorites) did not win or even lost. We won, but we know that there are things to improve on. We know what direction we need to go in.”
The defeat to France mean the Socceroos need a win against Christian Eriksen’s Denmark in Samara.
“We know (Eriksen) is a fantastic player and obviously he’s got a huge role to play for them,” said Australia captain Mile Jedinak.
“But we’re not trying to focus on that. We’ll definitely focus on them as whole and as a collective.”

Russia are celebrating after Wednesday’s results confirmed they have qualified for the knockout round for the first time since the Soviet era along with Uruguay, condemning Mohamed Salah’s Egypt and Saudi Arabia to an early exit.
Morocco will also be leaving Russia after the first round following their defeat to European champions Portugal, who are level with Spain on four points at the top of Group B.
Former England captain David Beckham has tipped England to play Argentina in the World Cup final after a positive start against Tunisia.
“I think obviously my choice would be England to win the competition, but that’s me being biased and passionate about my country,” he said.
And former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he believes the World Cup should return to England when Europe next gets its turn to host the tournament.
Blatter has arrived in Moscow to attend matches at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin despite being banned from the game for alleged corruption during his 17 years at the head of world football.
Away from the football, Burger King has apologized for an online ad offering burgers to Russian women who get impregnated by football players during the World Cup.
Burger King removed the ad and tried to make amends after a furor erupted on social media and in international media.
“We apologize for our statement. It turned out to be too offensive,” the company said.