Spin-heavy Afghanistan face India in historic Test

India's Nair reacts at Afghan skipper Stanikzai bold statement on spinners

India are without regular captain Virat Kohli, who initially opted to play for the English county championship side Surrey in June but that did not materialise as he hurt his neck while fielding during the IPL. "We all know the stats, but we don't focus on stats".

"In Test cricket, throughout the five days every session matters a lot".

India also have a couple of new players in their squad, which will make Rahane's task of fielding the right combination a bit hard.

"We are not going to take Afghanistan lightly".

Rahane refused to draw comparisons between the spin attacks of the two teams, but praised the experience of India's Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja as well as the talent of Kuldeep Yadav. We respect them as an opponent, but we will stick to our strengths. Afghanistan are likely to play three specialist spinners, and Mohammad Nabi, with the exciting 18-year-old Wafadar taking the new ball.

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"The mood back home is that they are very positive and supportive and looking forward for the best performance". While the star-studded bowling line-up has hogged most of the limelight, the Afghans would expect their batsmen to contribute equally if they hope for a dream start to their Test journey. The pitch, which has been prepared under cloudy skies and with plenty of rain in the air, has a fair smattering of grass, but also comes with a reputation for assisting the slow bowlers.

"What is important is that every Test match counts and we can't take them lightly". After coming back from IPL, it's important that we train our mind rather than skills, because getting back to Test cricket after T20 is all about tuning your mind rather than focusing on your skills. "I think there will always be a bit of disappointment in the players not to be on the same field as Virat", said Simmons.

The live telecast of the India vs Afghanistan one-off Test match will begin at 9.30 am IST every morning. "So we are disappointed he is not playing, but little bit happy that we are not going to bowl to him all the time".

Khan, the top T20 bowler in ICC rankings, took the Indian Premier League by storm with his 21 wickets for runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad, and mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman also impressed in the cash-rich tournament. "We are happy to be here and playing India, Virat is not India".

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