Afghanistan v India, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 18, 2012

'We rate ourselves highly' - Mangal


For all the goodwill and excitement Afghanistan have generated with their heady rise, it does not change the fact that they are quite a raw side at the top level, and that they understandably view their second World Twenty20 as a learning experience. Causing an upset will be an unbelievable high, of course, but more than that, Nawroz Mangal, their captain, wants to show the world that Afghanistan can compete at the highest level in international cricket.

"It is a learning phase for us and coming into this World Twenty20, the expectations are quite high," Mangal said. "Everyone is saying Afghanistan is capable of creating an upset. We will put up a good show to prove that we belong to this stage."

Afghanistan have played just four games against Test-playing sides till date, losing by big margins. They will meet their first Test-level opponents, India, again tomorrow, after going down to them by seven wickets in the 2010 World Twenty20. Mangal said the side that walks out on Tuesday evening will be completely different to the one from two years ago. "India is a big team. We are very excited and looking forward to this game. Tomorrow you will see a different team from what we were in the last World Twenty20."

It will be a "totally different appearance" from Afghanistan tomorrow because they have progressed vastly since the previous World Twenty20, according to Mangal. "We rate ourselves highly. Boys have done brilliantly since last World Twenty20. We have much improved cricketers now in the team, bowling, batting or fielding.

"Playing India and South Africa in the last World Twenty20 and after that we played a wonderful qualifier event...some of our main players were missing in that but we still played really well to qualify. After that, we played Pakistan and Australia and according to cricket experts, our performance was good. This time, we can learn a lot from the India game and [hopefully] put up a good show and give them a hard time."

Mangal said Afghanistan had done their homework when asked about their preparations against a good spinner such as R Ashwin. "We have done brilliantly in the past against quality spinners. We played [Saeed] Ajmal in the Pakistan game and yesterday, we played [Sunil] Narine, and we haven't seen difficulties. We have done our homework against Ashwin. Hopefully the batters can cope and deliver."

Afghanistan's rise has found tremendous support back home and the side's manager Shafiqullah Stanikzai said there was widespread awareness in the country about their participation in the World Twenty20. "The support is quite huge. Almost everyone knows that Afghanistan are in Sri Lanka and participating in the World Twenty20. More than 50-60 people from Afghanistan have contacted me for tickets. Every single Afghan is supporting the Afghan national cricket team."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Daniel on September 20, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I remeber when Kenya qualified for the 1996 WC (correct me if wrong), there was a wide spread opinion that Kenya will cause upsets to few of the major teams in that WC. But what happened from then to now is almost forgettable. So no hurry, wait and watch. I still remember what happened to Zimbabwe after few good players left the team. Kenya was no different when the downfall started. Bangladesh and Ireland yet to reach that stage to make few of us talk.

  • Jay on September 19, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    I hope the ICC grants official ODI status to Afghanistan soon. Zimbabwe, Bangladesh are not proving worthy of their test status (no offence to them). At least, Ireland and Afghanistan are showing how hungry they are to compete against quality teams. So good luck Afghani boys and God bless !!

  • sewd on September 19, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Afghanistan will be the surprise packet. Had the opportunity to see a few of them from close quarters, physically they have an edge over the Indian team. Since 20-20 is more of an instinct game it will suit their persona. One inspired perfomance can overshadow all the best laid out plans. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities as we have heard before and what better way than for Afghanistan to upset India. The Afghani brethren deserve it, however I want my team India to win the cup.

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    @sapnil2000: Look Look who's talking, new born baby Bangladesh gloating over 2-3 wins over India in 9-10 years. How many years elapsed since you came in cricket scenario?? still a minnow, eh?? Whining over Tamim not included in Pune's playing XI?? Big talk from small mouth

  • debarata on September 19, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    India's rear is HUGE and well padded with cash. If 8 kicks from Eng and Oz couldn't do it, seriously doubt Afghanistan's will. As for some posters who keep responding to BD supporters taunts about possible Eid gifts, show some dignity! Everybody likes to see the overbearing dominant neighbour humbled, normal human reaction. That doesn't mean you have to start on elaborate statistics to state the obvious. Makes you appear insecure. And the shorter the game the better the chances are for the weaker teams. BDs cricketing skills are Associate Level, even after more than 10 years of Test status. Compare that to SL, who played their first Test in 1982, won their first Test series in 1985, and won the WC just 14 years later, in 1996. And relax, its only cricket!!

  • reazul on September 19, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    Yes BD have won more than 1 match in a world cup - way back in 2007 in WI against India(irony , all indians should remember that) and SA & against WI in SA T20 - all outside their country 5 years ago with a very weak cricket team. BD fans jump up when they beat other teams simply because they are here & here to stay and grow strong. As for Kenya , Zim , Ire no one knows about their cricket team in their country & no one give a damn.

  • Muhammad Talha on September 19, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    Very soon afghanistan will replace bangladesh in the rankings.afgh is far better in terms of talent and wud be intersting to see their progress towards test cricket where bangladesh is just wasting a spot and doing nothing since 10 years.against india their chances are fair but not very terms of balance they are better than india.the only thing india has is a strong batting.

  • Daniel on September 19, 2012, 9:11 GMT

    @sapnil2000, you can live in your unrealistic world as long as you want and write off India. I'm not complaining about the hilarious false things you wrote about India. But remember BD yet to prove they deserve to mention them in the Cricket history and before that they need to justify their ODI, T20 and Test status. All the best.

  • Daniel on September 19, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    Time for a big win with record margin. JAIHIND.

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    Long Life Afghan Tigers You can Do it. You will show the world today that you tigers can beat any team. Best wishes and Allah Bless You All. Prayers of millions of Afghans are with you tigers. Love you all and best of luck

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