Afghanistan made cricket history on Thursday as the war-torn country took on India for their first ever Test match, the five-day format considered the pinnacle of the sport.
“Very proud moment,” Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai said as he took to the field in Bangalore for the pre-match toss, won by opposite number Ajinkya Rahane.
“All the guys have the first-class experience. Inshallah (God willing), we can do well. Maybe the first one hour it will be a good wicket for bowling,” the 30-year-old batsman said.
Before the start of the game at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium, which was attended by a host of dignitaries, the Afghan players received their red Test caps.
Afghanistan last year achieved full member status of the International Cricket Council, becoming only the 12th Test team despite conflict at home which has forced them to train in India since 2015.
After learning cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan, Afghanistan have made giant strides, gaining one-day international status in 2009 and qualifying for their second 50-over World Cup in England and Wales next year.
They have also been part of four Twenty20 World Cups. Last week they secured a T20 series sweep over Bangladesh helped by teen Indian Premier League (IPL) sensation Rashid Khan.
India’s Rahane, who is standing in as captain in place of Virat Kohli, took no time to decide to bat first in the historic game in Bangalore.
The hosts have picked their experienced spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, leaving left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav out of the starting line-up.
“Always an honour to captain India. We are not taking them lightly at all. All opponents are the same, and we wish to be ruthless here,” Rahane said.
India: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Afsar Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Yamin Ahmadzai, Wafadar
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (AUS), Paul Reiffel (AUS)
TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)