Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghan National Cricket Team Captain said at a press conference the cricket team is on form and “prepared for the Sri Lanka match” in their ICC World Cup Twenty20 Super 10 opener at Eden Gardens on Thursday evening.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, he said: “Sri Lanka is a very experienced team and they have won the World Cup. Every team in the T20 tournament wants to win their match but T20 matches are unclear. But those who play well, will win the match,” Stanikzai said.
He said that the “Afghanistan team at the moment is on form. Inshallah we are ready for the match [against Sri Lanka].”
About the team coach, he said: “When Inzamam-ul-Haq (coach) joined our team, he shared his experiences with us and taught us how to play international matches. He is a really experienced person because he has played a lot of international cricket matches.”
Stanikzai also thanked India for providing them with a home ground stadium.
The newly-built Greater Noida cricket stadium is home for Afghanistan’s cricketers after the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December last year.
“We appreciate BCCI and the Greater Noida to give us the home ground. It is very helpul,” Stanikzai said.
“India showed that as they help our government, they also started helping cricket. As the captain of the team and Afghanistan’s cricket, this is very good news for Afghanistan.”
He also said that qualifying for the World Cup had been very important for the fans back home as it brought some hope to the people.
“Qualifying for the World Cup was very important. Cricket has many fans in Afghanistan. We could see people talking about cricket and realized how important it was for Afghanistan to qualify. Fortunately we qualified,” he added.
Meanwhile, defending champions Sri Lanka will in Thursday’s match look to come out of the rut and start well against a spirited Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka, who was also runners-up in 2009 and 2012, have managed to win only four of their 14 T20I matches since they beat India to win the 2014 edition in Mirpur. They are in the middle of a transition phase after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene’s exit.
In batting Afghanistan will be heavily reliant on opener Mohammad Shahzad.
Behind the stumps, Shahzad has a safe pair of hands and offers Afghanistan the flexibility to include an extra bowler to strengthen their bowling attack.
Tune in to Lemar TV to watch the match live from 6:30pm local time.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (c), Mohammad Shahzad (vice-captain, wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Ameer Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal (vice-captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Shehan Jayasuriya, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dushmantha Chameera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake and Lasith Malinga.