DUBAI: Afghanistan spin wizard Rashid Khan on Monday said he has gained from playing in global leagues but the country’s up-and-coming talent needs more exposure to top-flight opposition.
The Mohammad Nabi-led side crushed Sri Lanka in the opener of the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament and next take on Bangladesh in Sharjah on Tuesday.
Rashid remains the brightest star in a galaxy of talented players many of whom have seen dark days in the war-torn nation, which witnessed another takeover by the Taliban last year.
Despite the odds, the one-time minnows have made their presence felt among the cricketing elite since making their Test debut in 2018 in India.
The 23-year-old Rashid, who has been key to the team’s fairytale rise, alongside Nabi and former captain Asghar Afghan, said they still need more space in the cricketing calender with top teams.
“We haven’t played much international cricket, especially the longer format. It’s just about the FTP (future tours programme), it’s not in the hand of the players,” Rashid told reporters on the eve of their second Asia Cup match.
“We want to play a lot of international cricket, that gives opportunities as youngsters come up through that. They should get the kind of environment where they can promote their cricket and skills.”
Afghanistan are scheduled to play 53 ODIs, 71 T20Is and 22 Tests between April 2022 and May 2027 but most of them are against lower-ranked teams like Ireland and Zimbabwe.
Rashid, a champion leg-spinner who plies his trade in various short-format leagues including the IPL and the Hundred, has raced to 112 wickets in 67 T20 internationals.
“Playing all the international leagues is something which gives us the kind of opportunity where we can learn from the best players,” said Rashid.
“That is where we learn and we bring that experience to the national level and share that with the team. The more players go around the world and play in the leagues, I think that is what helps us, especially in the batting department.”
Always known as giantkillers, Afghanistan’s stock has risen considerably at the Asia Cup after they hammered Sri Lanka by eight wickets on Saturday when they skittled their opponents for a meagre 105 and then knocked off the runs in just 10.1 overs.
“We have prepared well and we played a good game against Sri Lanka but that’s gone,” Rashid said.
“We think about taking one game at a time and giving our 100%. It doesn’t matter if the other team takes us lightly or not, we work hard and practice well.
“For us, every opposition is the toughest opposition. Tomorrow, if we play Hong Kong, we will have the same preparation as when we play India.”