Ajinkya Rahane has insisted the team would not take Afghanistan lightly in the upcoming historic Test, starting June 14 in Bengaluru.
The contest could be well called ‘David vs Goliath’, as far as the history and strength of the two opponents are concerned.
While India, a traditional powerhouse, are the number one Test team in the world for quite some time now, Afghanistan are gearing up to play their first-ever Tests. However, Rahane, who will lead the side in the historic game, warned against taking the Afghans lightly.
“As a player, every Test match is important. We will not take them (Afghanistan) lightly as we know that the team comprises of good players such as Rashid Khan, who has performed brilliantly in the IPL for the past two years. The team has plenty of talent. So our focus is on the Test match, be it any opponent, is to put up a good performance and to back the positives and strengths rather than focussing on the opponents,” he told India TV.
Afghanistan’s rise has been mighty impressive. They had gained the ODI status just seven years ago in 2011 and never looked back since then. They qualified for the 2015 World Cup and won their first game in the tournament by beating Scotland.
In 2016, they made it to the World T20 and registered a memorable win over eventual champion Windies. Last year, they along with Ireland got the Test status. Afghanistan are one of the most improved sides in the world at the moment and might spring a surprise or two in the upcoming game.
Moreover, they will enter the contest with the confidence sky high after the impressive 3-0 win over Bangladesh in the T20I series.
Rahane further said Afghanistan getting the Test status is good for the game.
“For cricket, it’s a huge deal that Afghanistan got its Test recognition and we will play with them. But our main aim to focus on our strengths,” he said.
He soon turned his focus to the upcoming tour of England where India will play a full-fledged series including a five-Test series. India lost seven of the nine Tests on the last two tours and will be desperate to do well this time around.
“Our priority is to do better this time than the last, especially as a team we should play well. It is a good opportunity for us to go and perform well and our main aim is to do well personally and register a win for the country,” he said.
“Every series is important. Be it T20I, ODI or Test, when you represent the country, every match is important for you and the commitment as well. We learnt a lot from all the series in the South Africa tour, and the last time we visited England, we had a new team but now they are all experienced. As a unit, as a team, we will play good cricket,” he added.
Rahane, meanwhile, will be looking to impress both as a captain and batsman. He had led India only once in the past and had delivered brilliantly.
In absence of Virat Kohli, he had led India to a thumping win over Australia last year in the final match of the Border-Gavaskar series which sealed the series 2-1 in the team’s favour.