LONDON: They might be Test cricket newcomers, but all-rounder Mohammad Nabi claimed that on their day Afghanistan can beat any Test side in the world.
Nabi was speaking after helping his side claim their first Test win — a seven-wicket victory over Ireland — in just their second Test. Afghanistan, who lost their debut Test to India in just two days last year, joined an elite list of cricketing nations after winning their second five-day game.
Australia won their debut Test in 1877, and England and Pakistan won in their second Test outing.
That has Nabi dreaming that this is just the start for Afghanistan, as long as the batsmen give the bowling attack enough runs to defend on a consistent basis.
“It’s a historic day for whole of Afghanistan,” the 34-year-old said. “Especially for those guys who bring cricket from zero to the Test cricket. We played two games and we won one.
“When you win then teams will tell you to come and play with them. Nobody plays a weak team. They might think that Afghanistan is weak but not so much that we can’t fight them.
“We have the world’s best spinners and we try to concentrate on our batting line-up. If we can put up a good score on board then we are confident of beating any team in the world.”
While it might be too soon to argue that Afghanistan can beat anyone, it is hard to overstate the significance of the win against Ireland. As with the Irish, Nabi’s team only achieved Test status two years ago, they only played their first ODI in 2009, and the confidence and class is clearly oozing throughout the squad.
Rahmat Shah top-scored with 76 and Ihsanullah Janat hit an unbeaten 65 to lead Afghanistan’s successful chase of 147 in the opening session of day four against Ireland in Dehradun in India.
Shah, who hit his second 50 of the match after making 98 in Afghanistan’s first-innings score of 314, and Janat put on a match-winning stand of 139 for the second wicket.
Star leg-spinner Rashid Khan also played a key role in his team’s historic triumph after returning career-best figures of five for 82 to bowl out Ireland for 288 in their second innings.
Khan, along with fellow spinners Nabi and Waqar Salamkheil, accounted for 14 of the 20 Irish wickets to fall during the one-off match between the new boys.
Since overcoming the odds to compete in the 2010 World T20 in England, the Afghanistan team has managed to qualify for all the major international tournaments and now await their second appearance in the upcoming 50-over World Cup.
But Nabi insisted a Test win is special. “Every format is different. A Test has
a different flavour to it. We played a lot of T20 and one-day matches and won, but the Test win is first,” he said.
“The way our guys performed in batting and bowling, the kind of comebacks that we did — it shows we are ready for Test cricket.”