Afghanistan’s fairytale journey from gully cricketers to international stars started only in 2009, but they will receive their baptism in the traditional format of the game on Thursday.

Meanwhile, they become the 12th Test playing nation, as they square-off against India in a one-off Test match in Bengaluru. However, more than two decades ago, it was a welcome break for Afghan refugees in camps in Pakistan.

It only fits that they embark on the maiden Test journey in a country where they have found support and cricket residence with most of their training camps held at a facility in Greater Noida.

Afghanistan have made rapid strides in the limited-over games, but red-ball cricket will be different. And, when you have the top-ranked team as opposition, the task is that much more challenging.

BCCI

Moreover, even if the Afghans are nervous, they are disguising it very nicely. In fact, their skipper, Asghar Stanikzai admitted he is hearing the word for the first time when a reporter asked him.

While the preparations may have been in right earnest, they lack experience in this format. Mohammad Nabi is the most experienced first-class player in the squad with 32 appearances.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s confidence stems from the exposure their ace spinners – Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, who played some quality cricket in the IPL. But their patience, endurance and ability to sustain quality while bowling long spells will be put to test.

However, their batsmen will face the uphill task of taking on a quality bowling attack.

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