CHENNAI: Afghanistan has created a niche for themselves in world cricket since their World T20 debut in 2010. Over the few years, they have registered some stunning upsets against higher-ranked teams in ODI and T20 formats, indicating that they are at par with world-class teams.
On Thursday, they will be making their Test debut against world number one India at Bengaluru. Asghar Stanikzai will lead the bunch of Afghans against the mighty Indians at their den.
Here's a look at five players from Afghanistan who can make an impact for their side:
Mujeeb-ur-Rahman: The 17-year-old off-spinner had an impressive IPL. He came into limelight after being picked up by the Kings XI Punjab for Rs 4 crore. Out of his 14 wickets in 11 matches, the key one was of Indian batting maestro Virat Kohli.
Mujeeb bowls traditional off-spin mixing it up with leg-spin and googlies and he will look to get the better of home side batsmen if M Chinnaswamy pitch offers some turn.
Mohammad Shahzad: The swashbuckling opener likes to entertain the crowd with his batting blitzkrieg. Well-known for his limited-overs exploits, the wicketkeeper-batsman has a good first-class record, scoring 1582 runs at an average of 54.55 in 20 matches. He scored his highest of 214* in the fourth innings to chase a target of 494 runs against Canada in an Inter-Continental Cup match.
It will be interesting to watch him perform against an experienced Indian bowling line-up consisting Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma.
Zahir Khan: The left-arm chinaman bowler will play a pivotal role against Indians. The 19-year-old Afghani was picked up by Rajasthan Royals in the IPL but could not play due to an injury.
He has played seven first-class matches and has picked up 34 wickets with the best of 5/31.
Rashid Khan: Rashid Khan has established himself as a match-winner. In the recent T-20 series against Bangladesh, Rashid won the match for his team by defending 9 runs in the last over to whitewash Shakib-al-Hasan and Co. He has been consistent in limited-overs cricket and plays the prominent global T-20 leagues IPL, BBL, Carribean Premier League, PSL and BPL. He has been bowling brilliantly for IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad in last two years, while also chipping in with some handy death-over batting.
The world's best T-20 bowler completes the Afghan spin trio along with Zahir and Mujeeb. He can fox the batters with his fast leg-spin and ripping googlies.
Asghar Stanikzai: Being the captain of a side playing the first Test match in its history, Stanikzai has to step-in with his responsible batting. The 30-year-old is an experienced campaigner and likes to spend time at the crease.
He has scored 1421 runs at an average of 44.4 in 23 first-class games, with five centuries.