Asia Cup 2014 February 26, 2014

Afghanistan hope to rally on familiar conditions

'Afghanistan will be exciting to watch'

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi has said that the team will bank on the local knowledge acquired from playing domestic competitions in Bangladesh.

Eight Afghanistan players, six of whom are in the current squad, played for various clubs in Dhaka earlier this season, and a few had also participated in the Bangladesh Premier League last year. They performed admirably, particularly Nabi who did well for Mohammedan Sporting Club, one of the oldest clubs in Dhaka, in the Dhaka Premier Division 2013-14. In five matches, he scored 223 runs at 44.6, including a hundred.

"I have played in the BPL and the Dhaka Premier Division," Nabi said. "In both tournaments, I performed very well and I know the grounds and pitches in Bangladesh. It is good for me and we will try our best to perform.

"Rahmat Shah, Azghar (Stanikzai), Gulbadin Naib, (Mohammad) Shahzad, Shapoor (Zadran), maybe half the team has played in Bangladesh and this is a good experience for them and for Afghanistan."

Ostensibly, the Asian Cricket Council gave Afghanistan a berth in this Asia Cup to prepare well for the World Twenty20s and the 2015 World Cup for which they qualified last year. They are realistic about their goals in the tournament, and given form and ranking, Bangladesh are their closest opponent, particularly as the hosts will be without Shakib Al Hasan.

"We will try our best against every team. There is no target," Nabi said. "We will play good cricket and when the time comes we will win.

"I have heard about Shakib Al Hasan being banned for three matches. This is a good chance as he is a key player for Bangladesh. We will take it as a priority and look forward to it."

Afghanistan have only played ODIs against Pakistan and Australia among the Full Members, but they left an impression on Misbah-ul-Haq, who had praised the side's commitment. For Nabi, the fact that other captains and teams are discussing Afghanistan is a source of "good news".

"It's a very good feeling to play against big teams. We played against India and Pakistan in big events like the World T20, against Pakistan in ODIs and T20s in Sharjah," Nabi said. "Maybe they know how Afghanistan plays and we hope to give them a tough time. It is good news that other team captains talk about the Afghanistan team. They know how we play, that's why they talk about us. We will try our best to play good cricket in this tournament."

There is some experience within the ranks, and Nabi believes that someone like Najibullah Zadran, who made 38 against Pakistan in a T20 last year, will be an important performer for the side.

"He (Najibullah) is a good talent. He already performed against Pakistan in T20s and he has been in good touch in the last one month in our camp in Sri Lanka. Hopefully, he will perform here as well."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here