As Afghanistan's Test debut nears, skipper Asghar Stanikzai firmly believes that they have got better spinners than the No.1-ranked Indian Test team. Afghanistan will face India at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore in their inaugural Test match on Thursday.
Teen sensation Rashid and fellow spinners Mujeeb ur Rahman, Zahir Khan and Hamza Hotak have been named in the 16-member Afghanistan squad for the inaugural one-off Test match against India.
India, on the other hand, will be without their star skipper Virat Kohli, who decided to skip the historic Test for his maiden English county stint but was later sidelined with neck injury.
In Kohli's absence, India are most likely to call up their star spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, the world's fourth and fifth-ranked Test bowlers respectively.
However, Stanikzai backed his side's spinners saying that Rashid Khan and the other are stronger than the Indian spinners.
"The whole world knows that [we have very good spinners in] Rashid Khan, Mujeeb [Ur Rahman], [Mohammad] Nabi, Rahmat [Shah], Zahir [Khan]," quoted Stanikzai as saying.
"In Afghanistan, the brilliant thing is that a lot of the young talent that is coming through are spinners, because they all follow Rashid, they follow Nabi, so because of that our spin department is very strong from below. In my opinion, we have good spinners, better spinners than India," he said.
Rashid had a successful stint in the recently-concluded 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he finished with a total of 21 wickets for runner-ups Sunrisers Hyderabad.
While Rahman is also coming off from his successful stint in the cash-rich league where he bagged 14 scalps for Kings XI Punjab, left-arm wrist spinner Zahir has been called in after recovering fully from a finger injury.
Left-arm off-spinner Hamza, on the other hand, seems to have got the nod in the wake of his impressive performance in the domestic First Class Tournament.
And wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad also admitted that Afghanistan's spinners, particularly Rashid - who is currently ranked number one and number two in T20Is and ODIs respectively - are as good as any other spinners in the world and can push India hard in Bengaluru.
"Not just India, but even if you look at the whole world, our Rashid Khan is the No. 1 spinner. You can match him up against any bowler, and you'll say, 'yes, he's better than him', or 'he's as good as him'. Mujeeb, Rashid, Nabi we also have Zahir Khan, who didn't get to play for Rajasthan [Royals], but he's also one such bowler - you'll see next year [in the IPL], so Alhamdulillah we have very good spinners," Shahzad said.
Afghanistan will become just the 12th nation to play Test cricket when they take on India in Bengaluru from Thursday.
(With ANI inputs)