Simmons downplays Kohli's absence

Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons (left) and captain Asghar Stanikzai were upbeat about facing India in their first ever Test match. DH PHOTO

Afghanistan are a little disappointed that the biggest name in world cricket at the moment – Indian captain Virat Kohli – isn’t going to be playing in their inaugural Test match here from Thursday but their coach Phil Simmons downplayed his absence saying “Virat is not India.”

“I think there will always be a bit of disappointment in the players not to be on the same field as Virat,” said Simmons when asked about a few senior players missing the match. “At the same time, we look at it as win the Test match and beat India, we don't beat Virat. So, we are disappointed he is not playing but little bit happy that we are not going to bowl to him all the time. We are happy to be here and playing India, Virat is not India,” he emphasised.

While Simmons was happy with the bowling attack at his disposal, he felt their batsmen have had ideal preparation to counter India’s spin threat.  

“You prepare for what you expect,” he pointed out. “We expected (Ravindra) Jadeja,  Ashwin, Kuldeep (Yadav to play) and we have had our own Kuldeep in young Zahir Khan. We have bowlers of similar ilk and they have been bowling at the batsmen. My feeling is that I can't tell you how to prepare for a particular player. When you practice it against a spinner you learn how to play him. So, we have put that in front of them and I think they have worked hard enough to be put out there, we will see what it brings tomorrow.”

While dismissing that there were any nerves ahead of their maiden Test, Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai said the team and the people back home were excited about the match.

“It is a history in itself that we are playing the inaugural Test match against the number-one team in the world,” he began. “The mood back home is very positive and supportive and people are looking forward to the best performance (from us), they expect us to perform well because recently Afghanistan performed really well in T20s and ODIs, and their expectation will be the same from us (this time). We will also try to keep up our good performance in the Test match as well. We have worked hard over the last couple of days for this and we will do our best,” he offered.

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Simmons downplays Kohli's absence

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