Kolkata: It’s been just a week ago that Afghanistan cricket made a huge leap as they along with Ireland were granted Test status which means that they have shed the tag of being, Associate Members and are now, Full Members of the ICC.
Undoubtedly, a lot of hard work and consistency was put in by the men from Afghanistan and all that have yielded a positive outcome today. Speaking to SportsCrunch, Afghanistan coach Lalchand Rajput explained as to what this means for Afghanistan cricket.
“It’s a great thing for Afghanistan cricket and I’m really happy that I’m a part of it. I’ve been coaching the team since the past one year and such a thing happening during my tenure gives me immense pleasure to be a part of the team.”
The Afghanistan cricket team has well and truly won a lot of hearts ever since they started playing cricket and now, the team has developed to produce some really exciting cricketers, one of them in the 18-year old leg-spinner, Rashid Khan.
Khan has truly been a revelation of all sorts for his team and his bowling prowess even fetched him the highest bid for any associate player in the cash-rich Indian Premier League, after he was bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping ₹4 crore.
He also broke an all-time record set by Pakistan’s legendary pacer Waqar Younis as he became the fastest to reach to 50 ODI wickets at the age of 18 years and 185 days when he produced a fine spell of leg-spin bowling against Ireland earlier this year.
Rajput, justly rated him highly and told that he has been a role model for other players in the team as well. “He has done well in the IPL and in the recent international matches. His brilliant performances has been a boost for other players as well because if they do well, they would get to play in the IPL and the other big leagues which would give them much needed exposure. Rashid Khan has become an icon in Afghanistan cricket.”
Khan’s jaw-dropping figures of 7/18 also made him the fourth in the list of the best bowling figures in ODI cricket behind legends like Chaminda Vaas, Shahid Afridi and Glenn McGrath.
On asked as to how he kept them motivated and focused when they were not doing well in international cricket, he said, “See, that is what a coach brings to the table. He has to motivate the players and bring the best out of them. One thing is that cricket cannot be taken lightly and their performance and consistency levels should increase day by day.
“For a batsman, they shouldn’t be happy with 50-60 but should aim for a century. For bowlers, they should always look for that five or six-wicket hauls. That hunger should be there. If they are hungry, they would definitely perform better,” the former India cricket manager said.
“I congratulated the players on WhatsApp. They are really very happy as now they would get to play Test cricket and would be called as Test players. It’s a big thing for them and everybody is very excited and are looking forward to it,” he said when asked on the reaction of the team after this historic announcement.
He added further, “It’s a good thing that they have got the Test status but now the real challenge starts. They will be playing against the big teams in the world. ”
On the players in his team he believes would do well in the Test format, he said, “They are a good bunch of cricketers like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Asgar Stanikzai and many others who I am looking forward to do well in Test cricket.”
Rajput has his share of history in Indian cricket as he was the team manager that won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Although many have questioned the wicketkeeper batsman’s role in the current Indian team, Rajput believes that the hard-hitting right hander is the best person to make a decision on his career.
“I think you have to leave it Dhoni because he is the best jugde. It’s up to him entirely. Only he can say when to step down. You have to give that respect to him” Rajput signed off.