We are very focused
After all of our preparation, it is great to finally be in the Caribbean, particularly after all the delays in getting here.
In our rise up the cricket rankings, it had seemed at times that nothing can get in our way, but after the events of the last fortnight it turns out that volcanic ash can! We had been due to arrive in the West Indies for a training camp 10 days ago, but due to all the flight disruptions we ended up having to prepare for the tournament in Sharjah, which was very frustrating.
In our training camp we were very focused on ensuring our preparation was completely focused on Twenty20 cricket. We have a great coach in Kabir Khan and he was helping us learn new shots, as well as improving the way in which we can protect ourselves from being attacked by some of the most aggressive batters.
The journey to the West Indies was very long, as we had to stop in London on the way to get here. It was only the second time in my life that I had flown business class and I really liked the seats on our Emirates plane. I couldn’t sleep much, as I was thinking so much about the coming days, so I watched a couple of movies. It was the first time I had ever seen Avatar, which I really enjoyed, and Night at the Museum, although somebody told me afterwards that I am featured on a programme on the cricket channel so I will have to watch that on the way home.
We had the chance to go into London for a few hours and I went to the London Eye, although I didn’t go on it as I have been there before, and we also walked around Westminster and Piccadilly Circus. Some of the team hadn’t been to London before and Mohammad Shahzad, who is one of our batters, couldn’t believe it when I told him that there is an underground train that goes through London – he thought I was joking, as some of our team had never been on a train before, let alone one below the ground!
A few people at the hotel were really nice as they came up to us and wished us luck – it seems that everybody is getting to know the Afghanistan team now.
I struggled to sleep last night after we arrived late last night and there wasn’t much time to rest this morning as we had some pre-event activities to do this morning which were quite fun. We all had to have our pictures taken and then I had to do a really long interview for television which is something I always enjoy doing.
It was strange having to play a match the day after we had arrived in the country. When I was bowling, my legs felt so heavy, and I was worried that I had lost my pace, but my physio assured me that this is natural when you are jetlagged and that I will be ready for 1st May and the match against India. It was nice to take a couple of wickets, particularly as one of them was a yorker which is my favourite delivery.
We did very well today to beat Ireland, who are a very good team, and Dawlat Ahmadzai showed what a good bowler he is. Although we didn’t start very well in our innings, Mohammad Nabi and Asghar Stanikzai batted really well to take us home to victory.
Although we have played quite a bit of cricket abroad in international tournaments, such as the World Cricket League, apart from playing in Argentina last year we haven’t really played much cricket on this side of the world. It is quite strange to think that while we are playing in the day time here, it is the middle of the night in Afghanistan, although I am sure there were probably lots of people following the scores on the internet.
On Thursday morning we head straight to St Lucia, which we are all very excited about, as we prepare for the biggest match of our lives against India. We will then have a light training session and probably do some swimming tomorrow afternoon, before a final training session on Friday. I promise to write more ahead of that game, so if you have any questions about the match let me know and I will try to reply to some of them in my next blog.