New Delhi:Phil Simmons, the Afghanistan cricket team coach, said the unavailability of some top India players will not lessen the importance of the one-off Test between the two sides in June, which will also be Afghanistan’s first Test. Simmons added that if Afghanistan win, no one can undermine their feat, with the five-day format being the pinnacle of cricket.
“If India play Afghanistan and Afghanistan win the Test, nobody will say Kohli wasn’t there, Cheteshwar Pujara wasn’t there or (Ajinkya) Rahane wasn’t there. It’s India’s choice what they do with their players,” said Simmons in an interview on the sidelines of the launch of Afghan Premier League.
“If we win, we have beaten India. We will take that.”
India face their toughest assignment this year when they travel to England for five Tests, three ODIs and as many T20s in June. Keeping that in mind, Test specialists like Murali Vijay and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will all land in England a little earlier in order to acclimatise to the conditions.
Kohli will play for Surrey in the Division One of English county in June while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma, both of whom went unsold at the IPL 2018 auctions, are currently playing for Yorkshire and Sussex, respectively. The India captain, who managed 134 runs in 10 innings during the England tour in 2014, had expressed his desire to prepare well before the start of the tour.
“Playing county cricket will help me improve my game. It’s just about giving yourself more opportunity to get used to the conditions that you are not used to,” Kohli had said.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Friday confirmed that the inaugural five-team Afghan Premier League will be played in October in the UAE. The tournament will most likely be played in Sharjah. As in the IPL, each team will field seven Afghan and four overseas players.
“Asked about the ACB initiative, Simmons said: “It’s a huge step. It shows they are looking forward to be a big player in cricketing world. To take an initiative like this shows they have an ambition, they want better teams for their players.
“Rashid (Khan) just came out from nowhere. Same goes with Mujeeb (Zadran). Luckily, Afghanistan has this league now and a lot of people from around the world are going to watch the young players. They (young players) might be found sooner than Rashid and Mujeeb. We might have a 15-year-old coming and making his mark.”
Asked who all he wants to see in the tournament, he said: “We know Indian players might not be available, which is understandable. It would be nice to see some big T20 names like Chris Gayle, David Miller participate.”