Afghanistan gear up for momentous first Men's Test

icc 31It will be a dream debut for newest Test nation Afghanistan, as they take on the world’s top-ranked team, India, in their first Test in Bengaluru from Thursday.

 Afghanistan, who have fast established themselves as a force to reckon with in the shorter formats, will become the 12th side to figure in men’s Test cricket after Ireland debuted against Pakistan last month. Both Ireland and Afghanistan were granted Full Member and Test status last June. 

The one-off Test against India will be Afghanistan’s first step towards being ranked on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankingsand a chance for their gifted players to enter the individual rankings after making a mark in limited overs cricket. India stand to lose three points if they lose this match but their number-one position is under no threat, thanks to a 13-point lead over South Africa. 

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai: “It’s a great moment for us as we embark on our Test journey. To be playing our first Test against India is a great honour and we hope to give a good account of ourselves. 

“To be competing against the best on the Test rankings table is something to be proud of and we will try to do our best in whatever chances we get and exhibit the skills the players possess individually as well as collectively as a team.” 

India captain Ajinkya Rahane: “It’s a privilege to be playing in Afghanistan’s first Test match. It’s a historic moment for them and an opportunity for us to be part of the occasion.  

“They have a fine team and some talented players who have proved themselves in shorter formats. I’m sure they are looking forward to do the same in Test cricket. On behalf of the Indian team, I wish them all the best.” 

India are without regular captain and second-ranked Virat Kohli for this Test but the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara (sixth), Rahane (18th) and opener Lokesh Rahul (19th) in batting and former top-ranked spinners Ravindra Jadeja (fourth) and Ravichandran Ashwin (fifth) among bowlers will be looking to improve their positions on the MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings.

Afghanistan’s spinners will be in focus too as Rashid Khan (top-ranked in T20Is, second in ODIs) and Mohammad Nabi (eighth in T20Is, 16th in ODIs) look to make a mark in Test cricket. Among batsmen, Rahmat Shah is their leading player in ODIs at 32nd position.

 Meanwhile, the first of three Tests between the Windies and Sri Lanka in Port of Spain has seen Kusal Mendis move towards the top 10 with his valiant second innings century that came in a 226-run loss, their first to the Windies in 10 years.

 The opener’s second innings score of 102 has lifted him three places to 16th position while Windies player Shane Dowrich has moved up 20 places to 66th position after compiling an unbeaten 125 in the first innings that came in a 468-minute vigil and earned him the Player of the Match award.

 Among bowlers, Shannon Gabriel (up one place to 23rd), Jason Holder (up one place to 35th) and Roston Chase (up four places to 51st) are the main gainers for the home side while for Sri Lanka, Suranga Lakmal (up one place to 30th), Lahiru Kumara (up 14 places to 54th) and Angelo Mathews (up one place to 72nd) are the ones to move up.

 

The Test team rankings, unlike the ODI and T20I rankings, are updated after the end of the series.

 

MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings (as of 11 June, before the one-off India-Afghanistan Test match in Bengaluru)

Rank    Team                 Points

1          India                 125

2          South Africa      112

3          Australia            106

4          New Zealand     102

5          England             97

6          Sri Lanka          94

7          Pakistan             88

8          Bangladesh       75

9          Windies              67

10        Zimbabwe           2

 

Also played: Ireland – 1 match, 0 points

Yet to play their first Test: Afghanistan.

 

MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as of 11 June, after the 1st Test between the Windies and Sri Lanka in Port of Spain and before the one-off Test between India and Afghanistan in Bengaluru ):

 

Batsmen (top 10)

 

Rank      (+/-)        Player                 Team     Pts        Avge      Highest Rating

   1         ( - )         Steve Smith         Aus        929       61.37     947 v SA at Durban 2018

   2         ( - )         Virat Kohli            Ind         912!      53.40     912 v SA at Johannesburg 2018

   3         ( - )         Joe Root              Eng        855       52.28     917 v Aus at Trent Bridge 2015

   4         ( - )         Kane Williamson  NZ          847       50.35     893 v Aus at Perth 2015

   5         ( - )         David Warner       Aus        820       48.20     880 v NZ at Perth 2015

   6         ( - )         C. Pujara              Ind         810       50.51     888 v SL at Nagpur 2017

   7         ( - )         Dean Elgar           SA          784!      42.58     784 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

   8         ( - )         Aiden Markram    SA          759*!     55.55     759 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

   9         ( - )         Hashim Amla       SA          726       48.03     907 v Pak at Abu Dhabi 2013

  10        ( - )         D. Chandimal       SL          716       43.55     746 v Ban at Chittagong 2018 

 

Other selected rankings

 

Rank     (+/-)        Player                 Team     Pts        Avge      Highest Rating

  16        (+3)        Kusal Mendis       SL          667       37.87     692 v Aus at Galle 2016

  18        (-1)         Ajinkya Rahane    Ind         660       43.68     825 v NZ at Indore 2016

  19        (-1)         Lokesh Rahul       Ind         657*      40.50     761 v SL at Pallekele 2017

  66        (+20)      Shane Dowrich    Win        443*      27.80     447 v Pak at Jamaica 2017

  86        (+1)        Dilruwan Perera   SL          355       20.66     388 v Pak at Dubai 2017

 

Bowlers (top 10)

 

Rank     (+/-)        Player                  Team     Pts        Avge      Highest Rating

   1         ( - )         Kagiso Rabada    SA          897       21.59     902 v Aus at Port Elizabeth 2018

   2         ( - )         James Anderson  Eng        892       27.23     896 v Win at Lord's 2017

   3         ( - )         Vernon Philander SA          845       21.46     912 v Ind at Johannesburg 2013

   4         ( - )         Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         844       23.73     899 v Aus at Ranchi 2017

   5         ( - )         R. Ashwin             Ind         803       25.56     904 v Eng at Mumbai 2016

   6=       ( - )         Morne Morkel       SA          800!      27.66     800 v Aus at Johannesburg 2018

              ( - )         Pat Cummins       Aus        800*!     23.81     800 v SA at Johannesburg 2018

   8         ( - )         Trent Boult           NZ          795       27.84     825 v Eng at Lord's 2015

   9         ( - )         Rangana Herath  SL          767       28.26    867 v Zim at Harare 2016

  10        ( - )         Neil Wagner         NZ          765       28.26    785 v Win at Wellington 2017

 

Other selected rankings

 

Rank      (+/-)        Player                 Team     Pts        Avge      Highest Rating

  23        (+1)        Shannon Gabriel  Win        625*      33.85     636 v Eng at Headingley 2017

  30        (+1)        Suranga Lakmal   SL          538       43.15     544 v Ind at Kolkata 2017

  35        (+1)        Jason Holder        Win        499*!     37.83     499 v SL at Trinidad 2018

  51        (+4)        Roston Chase      Win        313*!     44.85     313 v SL at Trinidad 2018

  54        (+14)      Lahiru Kumara     SL          292*!     42.40     292 v Win at Trinidad 2018

  72        (+1)        Angelo Mathews  SL          167*      52.66     246 v Ind at Colombo (SSC) 2015

 

All-rounders (top five)

 

Rank      (+/-)        Player                 Team     Pts        Highest Rating

   1         ( - )         Shakib Al Hasan  Ban        420       489 v Aus at Mirpur 2017

   2         ( - )         Ravindra Jadeja   Ind         390       438 v SL at Colombo (SSC) 2017

   3         ( - )         Vernon Philander SA          371       376 v Aus at Cape Town 2014

   4         ( - )         R. Ashwin             Ind         367       493 v Eng at Mohali 2016

   5         ( - )         Ben Stokes          Eng        327/*     396 v Win at Lord's 2017

   

*indicates provisional rating; a batsman qualifies for a full rating after playing 40 Test innings; a bowler qualifies for a full rating when he reaches 100 Test wickets.

! indicates career-highest rating