Afghanistan v South Africa, World T20 2016, Group 1, Mumbai March 19, 2016

We are out to beat South Africa - Stanikzai

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Afghanistan's captain, Asghar Stanikzai, has said that his team will be in it to win it when they face South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, and backed his spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Hamza Hotak to cause plenty problems in a contest that their opponents cannot afford to lose.

Coming off the back of a spirited display against Sri Lanka in Kolkata, in which the experience of Tillakaratne Dilshan held firm in a tense five-wicket win, Stanikzai believes that the hard surface and short boundaries of Mumbai could play into the hands of his team.

"The Wankhede is famous for big scores and big targets so definitely, if one team sets a big total, the other team will be trying to complete it because the boundaries are not big," he said. "It will be a good game, but we hope we bowl well because our spin is our strength.

"We have a good spin attack, the leggie Rashid, Nabi a good offbreak [bowler], and Hamza the leftie, throughout the tournament they have bowled very well."

In their eight overs in Kolkata, Nabi and Rashid claimed combined figures of 2 for 52, plus the run-out of Chamara Kapugedera, to keep their side firmly in the hunt until the closing overs. Having witnessed the relative success of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali amid the seam-bowling carnage in Mumbai on Friday night, and having hit his own stride with the bat in a whirlwind 62 from 47 balls against Sri Lanka, Stanikzai believes his side has the confidence and the balance to prosper.

"Every batsman, when he plays well, gets more confident for the next game," Stanikzai said. "Definitely I got more confident, most of our guys are currently in form and confident. We will play South Africa like we play every country, with our own [brand of] cricket. We give a tough time to every team, we not only play with them, but want to beat one or two of them as well."

Afghanistan are battle-hardened in this tournament, after fighting through a tough qualifying round in which only one nation from each of the two groups was invited to progress. And with Inzamam-ul-Haq and Manoj Prabhakar firmly embedded in their ranks as coach and bowling coach respectively, there is a seam of top-level experience in the back-room staff.

"The first round was very tough, but we qualify for the second round and we are currently playing very good," Stanikzai said. "We have definitely improved our cricket at international and elite level. As long as we play more cricket with Full Members we will get more experience, and be able to identify the weak areas we need to work on to compete at the elite level."

Afghanistan are now into their fifth ICC global event, having first appeared at the World T20 in the Caribbean in 2010. And that determination for self-improvement is helping the sport to embed itself back home.

"There is a big craze for cricket in Afghanistan nowadays," Stanikzai said. "We have very good support everywhere, people know each and every one of our players by name, they are heroes and role models. And the main positive is that whether we are winning or losing, they are supporting us. They are telling us, we can do better, which is the most important thing."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sherbaba75 on March 20, 2016, 12:14 GMT

    These Afganistan players are if compared with India or South Africa, are no where near to them in terms of training facilities, monetary benefits, support on and off the field and game exposure. But look how they are playing these Indians or Soith Africans whom are playing cricket for last 130 years and so. If these afghans get the opportunity to play these Indians or South Africans regularly, it is guaranteed that Afgans will beat them comprehensively all the time. In this match the real winner is Afganistan the way they have confronted a team whom are so much superior to them in all respect I have mentioned above. You Afgans are true Lions! Afganistan well wisher from Dhaka Bangladesh.

  • Cric-at-India on March 20, 2016, 11:23 GMT

    Too much over-confidence in the way he expressed. He should've said "We try our 100% to win this game" too much pride & aggression only backfires!

  •   Nasim Rahimi on March 20, 2016, 7:43 GMT

    Inshallah Afghanistan will win the Famous SA because like Pakistan Team they can't absorb the pressure. Go Afghan Lions it is time to beat the best teams in the World!

  • Cricinfouser on March 20, 2016, 5:45 GMT

    Afghan team will play their hearts out and improve with every game. Win or lose, Afghanistan has won the hearts of all Afghans and many non-Afghans. Go Afghanistan!

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on March 20, 2016, 5:20 GMT

    I really want Afghanistan to win so I'm trying my best to imagine a scenario where they can topple SA for a score that's less than what they can make on a good batting pitch. Unfortunately as yet I haven't managed to come up with anything...

  • Afgun_Mujahid on March 20, 2016, 1:49 GMT

    I don't Afg will loose but plz i hope they don't bring karim sadiq who has nothing to offer the team

  • WardakAfg. on March 20, 2016, 0:07 GMT

    For Afg.to beat SA is a pipe dream, but again I wish them good luck, from an Afg. fan.

  • HOPE-4-RSA-GILL on March 19, 2016, 20:31 GMT

    It is a positive approach to play against a good team but Afg can not beat RSA . If AFG team does it then SA should not play cricket any further . there is no room for DALE in T-20 cricket . DAVID WIESE is a much much batter option .... good luck for both !

  • 0788566232 on March 19, 2016, 19:09 GMT

    inshallah afghanistan is won the match from south Africa but afghanistan think play from their mind and very good bathing inshallah afghanistan won the match

  • Alibaba2016 on March 19, 2016, 18:10 GMT

    South Africa is a top team but Afghanistan should stay positive. Not letting nerves take on Afghans and playing their brand of cricket are the keys. Afghanistan needs a couple changes though. Spinners were not as expensive as fast bowlers in the match between England and South Africa. Therefore, they need to take Hamza Hotak instead of Hamid Hassan who is not in form (he was bowling full tosses during Lankan's game). Also, it is crucial to replace Karim Sadiq with Gulbadin Naib back. Best luck Afghans!!

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