Bangalore (India) (AFP) – When India captain Ajinkya Rahane invited Afghanistan’s players to join his side for a team photo after inflicting the biggest ever defeat on a Test debutant, it was clear that the cricket world was feeling for the new boys.
But Afghanistan, well used to adversity in their lives, have insisted they do not want sympathy despite being thrashed by an innings and 262 runs inside two days in their first five-day Test.
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai said he was surprised by the margin of defeat but insisted the team with their new glowing red Test caps would “learn lessons” from the loss.
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Shafiqullah Stanikzai told AFP the team would use the defeat as a sign of the work they still have to do.
“We are not taking it on ourselves, there was a lesson to be learned,” the board chief said after the loss at Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
“It was a good thing that we faced the world number one Test side in our inaugural match. It has given us a real indicator if we are to become a top cricketing side in the world.”
“I had a brief chat with the captain and he knows what needs to be done. We can only go higher and higher from here.”
Since gaining one day international status in 2009, the Afghans have qualified for their second 50-over World Cup in England and Wales next year. They have also been part of four Twenty20 World Cups.
Virtually every member of the team has witnessed conflict at close quarters in their home country. Many of them learned their cricket in refugee camps in Pakistan.
– ‘Want to succeed’ –
“The kind of character that our team has shown in the past decade is that we have come back from tough situations and we have worked hard,” said the chief executive.
Afghanistan’s introduction to the five-day game exposed major weaknesses in a side bundled out twice in a day for 109 and 103 while responding to India’s 474.
Their bowling was also found wanting with teenage spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman giving away 229 runs between them.
Afghanistan’s West Indian coach Phil Simmons defended the star spinners, who had impressed in the Indian Premier League but could not cope with the big day.
“I think in the first part nerves got the better of them, and as they went along they showed what they are capable of,” said Simmons.
“But I think they are by no means happy with how they performed,” he told reporters.
Simmons, who has also coached Zimbabwe and Ireland, said the Afghans can learn from their mistakes.
“I do believe they want to succeed, they want to be good at it and we have to work five times as hard as we did. I believe that they will get there,” he said.
India captain Rahane encouraged the newcomers to bounce back, saying “they should not be blamed” for the heavy defeat.