Karthik lavishes praise on Afghanistan

Karthik lavishes praise on Afghanistan

The progress made by Afghanistan in a short period has impressed Dinesh Karthik. DH photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

Afghanistan have been the feel-good story of world cricket in recent times. From making their ODI debut in 2009 to earning a spot in next year's World Cup -- only 10 teams will be in action in England -- Afghanistan have been constantly making heads turn with their performances.

Even players like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Shahzad have plenty of fan following from even elite cricketing nations. And on Thursday, they will turn a new chapter in their short history when they make their Test debut.

Dinesh Karthik hailed the achievements of the war-torn nation whose players learnt the sport in refugee camps. "It’s been beautiful, isn’t it? It is one of the highlights for the ICC as well, to have a Test nation like Afghanistan. I think their journey, you can say (is inspirational) for world cricket. Not many knew Afghanistan play cricket, but for them to come into the World Cup and do so well and get into the qualifiers over a period of time and do well there against other teams and even qualify for the upcoming World Cup. I give them a lot of credit.

"Everyone knows it’s a tough place and the turmoil that they are going through, but in spite of that they are able to inspire people with their performances. They’re able to even produce big players even in a tournament like the IPL. I’m happy to see a country like that doing so well in cricket, it’s good to see for the sport as well. If many countries take that route and challenge themselves and do well, it will be a fabulous story. Today, when you look at them, there are some household names in the few years they’ve played, it’s only going to get better.

"I genuinely hope they have the opportunity to play a lot of Test cricket. Got to credit them, how with all the little infrastructure they have, they’re trying to beat all odds and do well in international cricket. Credit to ICC as well (for giving them Test status). It’s going to be an honour to play against them for the first time."

A few days ago Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai remarked his side has better spinners than India. Karthik dismissed that notion, saying experience matters in world cricket. "I don't know what that person has said, in terms of having better spinners. Look you have to understand we have a lot of experience. Not only Test match cricket but also domestic cricket, lots of four-day matches. Clearly, all their spinners put together would not have played as many matches as say a Kuldeep Yadav would have played in four-day cricket.

"At the end of the day, experience has a lot of value. We saw that with CSK in IPL. Experience pays. I'm sure in time they will become even better bowlers than when they start off. But the point is, the kind of improvement they have shown in white ball cricket has been phenomenal. There is no reason why they cannot do that in Test cricket. But I would definitely say our spinners have a lot of experience and experience is not something that can be easily bought. I'm sure their players will also vouch for that. I understand the statement he has made but I wouldn’t harp too much on that."