Beware: Afghanistan Test-ready!

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Fearless Afghans are a treat to watch.

Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Shafiq Stanikzai has presented an argument in favour of the proposal for two-tier Test cricket, saying the side deserves the opportunity to play Tests through their solid performances in the ICC’s Intercontinental Cup first-class multi-day competition for Associates.

“We think that we are ready to play Test cricket and we have proven that,” Stanikzai told ESPNcricinfo in a recent interview. “Since we entered into the Intercontinental Cup arena, we were beaten only once. That was in the [2013] Intercontinental Cup final where we got beaten by Ireland but that’s the only loss we have in a four-day game or multi-day game.”

Afghanistan are currently in second place behind Ireland on the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup table after four rounds, with three wins and a rain-marred draw against Scotland.

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Afghanistan’s overall record in the first-class competition is outstanding with 14 wins, one loss and four draws. Right from their debut in the competition – a high-scoring draw in which they claimed first-innings points against a Zimbabwe XI in 2009 – they have made an effort to demonstrate their versatility rather than be pigeonholed as a limited-overs specialist outfit.

Nowhere was that more evident than in their victory against a then elite Canada outfit in 2010, who at the time were preparing to play their third successive ICC World Cup.

Set a target of 494 to win in the fourth innings, Afghanistan recorded the ninth-best successful chase in first-class cricket history spearheaded by Mohammad Shahzad’s unbeaten 214. That win propelled them to a maiden Intercontinental Cup title later that year with a win over Scotland in the final. That victory also broke Ireland’s streak of three successive titles.

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