Afghanistan's first international skipper and current chairman of selectors Nawroz Mangal is keenly watching the action from the President's box in Chinnaswamy Stadium. He looks dapper in a blue suit, a far cry from the serious looking scrawny-faced skipper of the national team making its international debut during the ICC World Twenty20 Championships 2009 in England. Mangal is beaming as he watches Afghanistan play its first Test.
Speaking to THE WEEK, Mangal said that Eid has arrived a day early for Afghanistan. “A 20-year-long dream has been realised. It's Eid before sighting of the moon for Afghanistan cricket.”
Mangal did the honours of giving the red Test cap to each member of the Afghanistan squad after the toss. It was, undoubtedly, an emotional moment for him. Overcome with emotion, Mangal wistfully admitted that he wished he too had experienced this honour.
“It feels really good. When I was giving the Test caps to the team, the first thought in my mind was even I want to be part of this team, get a Test cap,” Mangal said. “Then I said to myself that may not be so, but at least I am present here and part of a special occasion. This is a huge thing for me. These young boys won't have to go through the rigours and difficulties we faced. It's an opportunity for the junior cricketers to play cricket at the highest level.”
Mangal had a word with the Afghan players on the eve of the match, putting their minds at ease, explaining to them how Test cricket will be a brand new experience for all of them.
Terming this as an opportunity for the present and future generations of Afghanistan cricket, Mangal said, “The boys asked me how different it will be and I told them just go out and enjoy, it will be different, but add an extra day to your four-day routine. There will be pressure, but enjoy it. Most importantly, go out and play in a manner that you make the day part of history.”
Mangal plans to have a word with the team after their first day of Test cricket to “discuss a few things”. Afghanistan received a master class from Indian batsmen, who were not particularly troubled by any of the Afghanistan bowlers and scored freely.