ROHIT SANKAR | 13 JUNE, 2018
SWOT Analysis of Afghanistan Test Team
Spin is the team's big Plus
As Afghanistan gear up to face India in their inaugural Test match, all cameras are zoomed in on them. Partners in earning the Test membership, Ireland had a rather celebrated start to Test cricket when they ran Pakistan close in a home Test last month.
Afghanistan aren't considered man enough to threaten the hosts who have a rather extraordinary record at home in this format. India have lost just one Test at home since 2013, a mind-blowing feat considering the stature of the teams they have hosted. Afghanistan ought to have been mere pushovers for this India juggernaut, but if rumour mills are anything to go by, the Ajinkya Rahane-led unit aren't taking their neighbours lightly.
A possible reason for this could be their massive strength in one particular department. Here we discuss that one humungous strength, their weaknesses, opportunity and threats in this SWOT analysis.
The one factor that helped Afghanistan gain Test membership. The one factor that make them a plausible threat to all teams playing them across formats. The one factor that makes them a cricket team. Spin. Led by the dynamic Rashid Khan and ably supported by the teenage Mujeeb ur Rahman, Afghanistan boast of a slew of spinners capable of weaving a web around any high quality batsman.
If the IPL is anything to go by, these Afghan spinners would be relentless and on target nine out of ten times. Afghanistan further have two quality spinners in Mohammad Nabi and Zahir Khan, both of whom were part of the IPL this year. The invaluable experience these spinners earned in India would serve them big time as they are set to face India at Bengaluru.
These spinners are Afghanistan's strength and their sole line of attack in the one off Test match. With India’s batsmen not as adept at spin as the wristy yesteryear players, Afghanistan might be better placed than some of India's recent foes at home.
As much as their bowling attack is potent, their batting line-up reeks of half-hearted sloggers and experienced batsmen who haven't really established their supremacy in this format even at domestic level. Whether they possess the temperament and grit to play through a spell of Ashwin or Jadeja would remain the big question for Afghanistan as they head to Bengaluru.
Inexperience is another factor that pegs back the visitors. Although they have played at Greater Noida so much as to call it their second home, Bengaluru and a full-fledged Indian side (although Virat Kohli is missing) present a stern test. If Afghanistan are to challenge the hosts they will need to learn with each hour of the game.
The lack of incision in the pace department could also haunt Asghar Stanikzai's men as they hope to usurp the Indians. There was a markable difference between their seamers and spinners in the three T20Is against Bangladesh and if India prepare a greener surface to keep the Afghan spinners at bay, the visitor’s plans could backfire.
If pitch is a factor, Afghanistan would do well to know that the last time India played there, Nathan Lyon smoked through their line-up with a eight-wicket haul in the first innings. While it did not result in Australia winning the Test, the fact that the ball could take turn is good news for Afghanistan. Their spinners have ample experience of Indian conditions having played in the IPL and could use that against the hosts. Someone like Mujeeb ur Rahman has apparently leaned a mystery ball from his Kings XI Punjab skipper, Ravichandran Ashwin and could unleash it on the hosts at Bengaluru. Despite their lack of experience and shortcomings, Afghanistan do have a wonderful opportunity to atleast challenge India, if not win their debut Test.
Against the World’s no.1 Test side, Afghanistan's biggest challenge is putting up a decent total. While 20 wickets win you Test matches, you still ought to have a decent amount of runs on board to make a game out of it. The biggest threat for Stanikzai and his batting line-up would be to keep the Indian bowlers at bay.
They have no way of ekeing out a draw in the Test, let alone winning it, if they cannot put up sizeable totals. This alone makes the contest between them and the Indian bowlers, in particularly Ashwin and Jadeja, a mouth watering one.
Can Afghanistan live up to the hype or will they wilt under the pressure from India's relentless Test line-up?