Dubai: When Test debutants Afghanistan were mauled by India inside two days in Bengaluru last year, questions were raised if they were being rushed into the longest format of the game a bit too soon. A little more than an year later, young Rashid Khan and his men stunned the cricketing fraternity when they humbled fancied Bangladesh by 224 runs in the one-off Test in Chittagong on Monday — touching Australia’s record of being quickest to notch up two Test wins in a row.
This was only the third Test match for the Afghans and they have won both their red ball contests this year — beating Ireland, who made the grade together to be a Test-playing nation in 2017, and now Bangladesh. The Afghan showing certainly puts them one-up on Bangladesh, who were granted Test status way back in 2000 but had to wait for nearly five years for their first win against Zimbabwe.
The fairytale journey of Afghanistan in white ball cricket, who qualified for the last two 50-over World Cups and have been a regular feature now for the World T20, has been too well documented in recent times. The win over a higher ranked Bangladesh in a Test has come as a surprise for the top brass of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), but they are not willing to get overwhelmed by the success.
“The way our players have been performing, they certainly deserved that win. I think it was a good example for other nations to take note of us,” said Asadullah Khan, CEO of the board.
Speaking to Gulf News over phone from Kabul, the official struck a realistic note when he said: “We didn’t expect Bangladesh to make such a suicidal move of going for a spinner-friendly wicket.” Rashid, arguably one of the best leg-spinners of the world at the moment, ended with a 11-wicket haul in the match to be adjudged Man of the Match.
Asked if this victory would inspire Afghanistan to change their blueprint in the longer format, Asadullah said: “Our expectations are obviously more than just looking to play more Test matches, we want to be the worldbeaters. However, our batting remains a cause of worry.”
The news of victory sparked wild celebrations back in Kabul, with Shafiq Stanikzai, former CEO of the Afghan board, sharing a video of a bunch of Afghan kids celebrating moment on social media. “This is what it means to us as Nation, love u all #BlueTigers. @rashidkhan_19 u r a living super star in the cricket lobe@MohammadNabi007 am sure u must be happy for such a wonderful ending of ur test career (sic.)” he tweeted.
A crestfallen Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan has, meanwhile, taken full responsibility for the home defeat and said it would be best if someone else took over the captaincy.
“It will be best if I didn’t have to lead,” Shakib told reporters after the match. “I personally believe it will be good for my game.
“And if I have to continue leading, then obviously there is a lot to discuss about (with the board).”