Windies Geared Up for “Difficult” Afghanistan Challenge

LUC­KNOW, In­dia – CMC – West In­dies have pre­pared for a “dif­fi­cult” chal­lenge from novices Afghanistan when the one-off in­au­gur­al Test be­tween the two teams bowls off mid­night on Tues­day, (East­ern Caribbean time).

Head coach Phil Sim­mons told re­porters onTues­day while Afghanistan pos­sessed lim­it­ed ex­pe­ri­ence in the longest for­mat, play­ing in sub­con­ti­nent con­di­tions made them a dan­ger­ous side and it was im­por­tant West In­dies were on top of their game.

“As an op­po­nent, they are go­ing to be dif­fi­cult,” said Sim­mons, ahead of his first Test with the Caribbean side in his sec­ond stint in charge in four years.

“They are go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult be­cause they are on their home ground. The wick­et’s go­ing to turn [and] every­thing like that but in say­ing that, every­where you go the op­po­nents are go­ing to be dif­fi­cult in their home at­mos­phere.

“It is go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult Test match for us but at the end of the day, we’ve got to play home and away all the time. That’s how we look at it.”

West In­dies en­ter as over­whelm­ing favourites to dom­i­nate the game at the Atal Bi­hari Va­j­pay­ee In­ter­na­tion­al Sta­di­um. In their cap­tain Ja­son Hold­er, they pos­sess the world’s lead­ing all-rounder in Tests while Kraigg Brath­waite, Ros­ton Chase and Shai Hope are all ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers with Test hun­dreds to their names.

Vet­er­an seam­er Ke­mar Roach will lead the Windies at­tack with Hold­er and fel­low pace bowler Alzarri Joseph play­ing sup­port­ing roles.

Spe­cial­ist spin­ner, left-armer Jomel War­ri­can, is ex­pect­ed to fea­ture promi­nent­ly as is off-spin­ning all-rounder Rah­keem Corn­wall who made his de­but on In­dia’s tour of the Caribbean last Au­gust.

Afghanistan, mean­while, has played just three Tests since gain­ing ICC sta­tus two years ago, win­ning two – against In­dia and Bangladesh – and los­ing to In­dia.

And Sim­mons, who stepped down as Afghanistan’s coach fol­low­ing the World Cup in Ju­ly, said the Windies would be look­ing to ex­ploit the Asian side’s in­ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think there’s a lot of changes in this team com­pared to the white-ball team,” he not­ed.

“And I think that’s their for­mat. Their for­mat is T20 and they’ve done well over the last two, three years in T20 crick­et so they were al­ways go­ing to fight back in that one (se­ries).

“I think this one (Test for­mat) they’ve had three Test match­es. They’ve done well … but it’s still a learn­ing stage for them and hope­ful­ly, we can cap­i­talise on that.”

Afghanistan’s bowl­ing, as it did in the re­cent T20 se­ries, is ex­pect­ed to be the strength of the home side. But while they boast some de­cent fast bowlers, it is their spin­ners like leg-spin­ning cap­tain Rashid Khan, 19-year-old leg-spin­ner Qais Ahmed and 20-year-old left-arm spin­ners Za­hir Khan and Hamza Ho­tak who are ex­pect­ed to prove the re­al threats.

And Sim­mons said West In­dies would un­der­take a last-minute as­sess­ment of the pitch be­fore de­cid­ing on the com­po­si­tion of their squad.

“I’ve got to have a look at the wick­et again to­day and maybe to­mor­row morn­ing and see what it looks like be­fore we de­cide what the fi­nal bowl­ing at­tack would be like,” he said.

“It (fi­nal XI) may be heavy on spin or heavy on-seam de­pend­ing on what we see be­tween Mon­day and Tues­day.”

SQUADS

AFGHANISTAN – Rashid Khan (cap­tain), As­ghar Afghan, Ih­san­ul­lah Janat, Ibrahim Zad­ran, Javed Ah­ma­di, Rah­mat Shah, Karim Janat, Qais Ahmed, Ikram Alikhiel (wick­et­keep­er), Af­sar Za­zai, Nasir Ja­mal, Za­hir Khan, Yamin Ah­madzai, Hamza Ho­tak, Ni­jat Ma­sood.

WEST IN­DIES – Ja­son Hold­er (cap­tain), Shai Hope, John Camp­bell, Kraigg Brath­waite, Shim­ron Het­my­er, Shamarh Brooks, Ros­ton Chase, Shane Dowrich, Sunil Am­bris, Jomel War­ri­can, Rah­keem Corn­wall, Ke­mar Roach, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph.

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