Coach Kabir banks on element of surprise

Not here to just make up the numbers, assert Afghan players

“On the technical side it is good that they don’t know us because when they know about you they will plan. The coaches will watch the videos and work on our weakness. Luckily, we know everything about them. We have seen all their IPL games. We will give them a surprise which will make them remember us after the game,” Kabir said.

Another important component of their team, all-rounder Karim Sadiq feels the fact that they don’t depend on any individual gives them an edge over the mighty Indians. “They have all performed. We haven’t got a certain guy we bank on. We have got a batting line-up which runs down to number eight. And we have got seven bowlers to choose from.

“If one batsman fails, the other one will win us the match. If one bowler doesn’t perform, another guy will bowl well. It has been a story of total team performance. I think we have good side which is capable of pulling off an upset,” Karim explained.

Captain Nawroz Mangal also exuded confidence and said his side would give their everything and grab the opportunity of playing at such a high level. “We are very happy that we are here. We worked really hard for it for the last two years and that has put us in the top 12 teams in the competition.

“We know there is a lot of pressure back home. But we have already fought in pressure cooker conditions and we are used to it. We will give our 100 per cent in this pressure game,” said Nawroz.

More than their epoch-making performances, Nawroz was glad that cricket had unified the people of Afghanistan.

“It is a great achievement. If we have qualified, it is because of the whole nation’s prayers. If the whole nation is praying for you, it means that it is bringing the whole nation together. Cricket is already playing a role in Afghanistan and it can play a major role in the peace process in the region,” emphasised the 28-year-old.

“A lot of it goes to the tough upbringing because during the war days when they were in refugee camps they were fighting for food, clothes and for a living.

“That upbringing has made them mentally tough and they know that only when they win they can survive,” Nawroz added.

Many from the Afghanistan team have their idols in Indian cricket but Nawroz said they won’t get dazzled by them. “Dhoni is one of their stars. In fact, our wicketkeeper’s main idol is Dhoni. His name is Mohammad Shahzad. It starts with MS as in Dhoni’s name. So he calls himself MS,” said Karim. “But don’t make the mistake that they would be dazzled by the Indian players.”

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