Lucknow: West Indies will face a stern test against Afghanistan bowlers, led by captain Rashid Khan’s leg spin, when the teams meet in a one-off Test in this northern Indian city beginning Wednesday.
Both teams are familiar with the conditions in Lucknow after West Indies whitewashed Afghanistan 3-0 in the ODI series before Afghanistan came back to clinch the Twenty20 series 2-1.
Karim Janat, a 21-year-old allrounder who played a vital role in the Twenty20 series with 5-11 in the second game with his seam bowling, has received his first Test call-up. Another young fast bowler, Nijat Masood, is also among the 15-member squad in which left-arm spinner Hamza Hotak is making a comeback after two years.
Afghanistan will be without veteran allrounder Mohammad Nabi, who announced his retirement from Test cricket after beating Bangladesh by 223 runs in a one-off Test in September.
Rashid took a match haul of 11 wickets against Bangladesh in his first Test as Afghanistan captain that paved the way for an emphatic victory, but Nabi bowled extensively in that game and his absence might be felt in Lucknow.
Afghanistan has experienced former captain Asghar Afghan and Rahmat Shah to form the nucleus of it’s batting line-up. Shah scored 102 and Afghan narrowly missed out on his century when he was out for 92 against Bangladesh.
West Indies captain Jason Holder said his side is wary of the spin-friendly slow wicket in Lucknow. “Afghanistan will be no pushovers, especially in these conditions which they are familiar with,” Holder said. “It will be up to our batsmen to negotiate their spinners and do it well. I believe we have the quality to do that.’’
West Indies has depth in its batting line-up to challenge the spin threat of Rashid and company with the likes of Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Roston Chase.
Holder says the Lucknow wicket and others like in India or Pakistan don’t offer the bounce that they get at home. “In the Caribbean, you get more bounce than we have seen in the surfaces here, even though we have noticed the pace of the pitches back home has slowed down a bit,’’ Holder said.