Rain played spoilsport on Afghanistan’s first practice session ahead of their historic Test debut against India as the minnows were forced to wind up their nets 45 minutes ahead of the scheduled time, here on Sunday.
Afghanistan team arrived at NCA on time and started practicing from 2 pm but had to wind up its session at 4.15 pm following a heavy downpour.
Rain threat also looms large over the match starting on June 14 as weathermen had forecast wet conditions during one or two days. However, the Chinnaswamy Stadium is well-equipped to tackle the downpour with the help of SubAir subsurface aeration and vacuum-powered drainage system.
The technology helps to prevent water logging in the outfield and allows for the quick resumption of the match as the system is capable of draining water 36 times faster than normal standards.
Even as curators were working to keep practice pitches dry, Afghanistan players looked in good shape as they batted and bowled in the presence of their support staff led by coach Phil Simmons.
The batsmen, including Ashgar Stanikzai, Mohammad Shazad, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah, who all have scored first-class tons, had a good hit at the nets.
Afghan bowlers, especially spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman also swung their arms in the net. Mujeeb, who was bought for Rs 4 crore by Kings XI Punjab in Indian Premier League, displayed all his tricks.
In his debut IPl season, Mujeeb finished with 14 wickets from 11 matches at a highly impressive average of 20.64 and an economy rate of 6.99. Rashid, who is numero uno bowler in the world in T20 format, was at his best at nets by bamboozling batsmen as they failed to read his well-disguised googlies.
Last night, the 15-member Afghan squad had arrived at Kempe Gowda International Airport with their tails up after decimating Bangladesh 3-0 in a T20 International series in Dehradun.
The local officials gave an unforgettable welcome to the squad.
Afghanistan, who got their full status along with Ireland last year, have been doing well especially in limited overs format with the help of their world-class spin bowlers led by Rashid, who made his presence while representing runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL this year.
However, a big test lies ahead of Afghanistan, who would be making its debut in the longer format of the game by taking on the formidable India in home conditions.
The Stanikzai-led Afghanistan team would hope to make an impression with the help of its four spinners, which has prompted India to bolster its spin department, from two to three spinners by recalling Kuldeep Yadav.
In a mind game battle, Stanikzai has called his spinners — Rashid, Mujeeb, Mohammad Nabi, Rahmat Shah and Zahir Khan — better than Indian tweakers.
Stanikzai is hopeful of a great show from his spinners in their inaugural Test. The match will be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium from June 14 to 18.
(With inputs from PTI)