Afghanistan gear up for Windies in new home Lucknow
For Afghanistan, India is home away from their troubled turf. And next week, the youngest Test team will begin life at its new home, in a city that will host the longest format for the first time in over 25 years. After hosting their international games in Greater Noida and Dehradun, Afghanistan have just landed in Lucknow, and it is no surprise they feel the wedding rush.
Afghan team manager Mohammad Nazeem Jaar is the busiest man in the side. He has nine days to put things in order as West Indies arrive for the first full series between the teams comprising three ODIs and T20s each, and a one-off Test. The series starts on Nov 6 with the ODIs. Nazeem Jaar has been supervising his team, their catering and stay; he will also have to ensure everything is in order when West Indies arrive on Thursday.
“Here food is good (a bit spicy), stay too. We came here just last night and have to manage so many things. Somehow we have sorted arrangements for stay of the two teams as the wedding season is a big problem to get enough rooms for teams in hotels here at the eleventh hour,” Jaar said on Monday as the Afghanistan team began its first training session here. All matches will be played at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee International Stadium here.
The only player missing was skipper Rashid Khan, who stayed back in the hotel after landing from the UAE in the morning. “He wanted to join the first training session, but I asked him to rest as it was a long journey,” Jaar said.
“There has been a lot of change in the mentality of the team since the World Cup in July and we are hoping for a good series here. West Indies have been a good side, but we are ready to challenge them on home turf,” said Jaar, who was happy with the new home ground.
“We had our cricket at Noida and then Dehradun, but Lucknow is altogether a different place,” said the team manager, who feels many supporters from Afghanistan, Delhi and Lucknow will be here to support his team. “Big hotels were the main issue at Dehradun and we were looking for a change. Here conditions are the most conducive.”
Afghanistan lost their last meeting against West Indies, in the World Cup at Leeds. They have left out experienced pace bowler Dawlat Zadran for the series. After the team lost all nine matches at the World Cup under Gulbadin Naib’s captaincy, Rashid Khan was named skipper for all formats.
Since the World Cup, Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh in a one-off Test and also made it to the final of a T20 tri-series in Bangladesh where Zimbabwe was the other team. The final was abandoned due to rain.
Besides dropping Dawlat and fast bowler Hamid Hassan, experienced Hashmatullah Shahidi, Noor Ali Zadran and Samiullah Shinwari have also been left out for the ODIs. Afghanistan’s new coach Lance Klusener is expected to join up on Wednesday.
ODIs: Rashid Khan (captain), Asghar Afghan, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Javed Ahmadi, Afsar Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Sharafudin Ashraf, Ibrahim Zadran, Yamin Ahmadzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Ikram Alikhil, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman.
T20 squad: Rashid Khan (captain), Asghar Afghan, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Sharafudin Ashraf, Fareed Ahmad, Yamin Ahmadzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman.
ODI series: Nov 6, 9 and 11 (Matches start at 2 pm)
T20 series: Nov 14, 16, 17 (Matches start at 700 pm)
One-off Test: Nov 27-Dec 1.