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Batting 100 overs, scoring 400: Klusener on Afghanistan’s Test targets

Afghanistan head coach Lance Klusener is looking to take inspiration from their recent success against Ireland as they prepare for the upcoming Test series against Zimbabwe. In a chat with Cricbuzz, the South African insisted that he is focused on impressing upon his charges the mindset switch required to excel in the longest form of the game.

Excerpts:

You had a successful campaign against Ireland? But Test cricket is a whole different ball game…

I think the 3-0 win against Ireland is definitely a confidence booster for us before going to Zimbabwe, and we will start playing Test cricket after a long time, and winning any sort of matches builds confidence and momentum, and we will take that and use it in the longer version of the game.

What is your biggest challenge ahead of the series?

Our biggest challenge in Test cricket is to bat for hundred overs, up from twenty overs, and that’s the biggest challenge for us. We need to make the mind of the players understand that they can bat for a much longer period. We are looking forward to scoring over 400, which will generally put us in a good position, which is the main target. We have talked with the players about the Test match against Ireland where our boys have batted for 50 overs, but now we are looking to bat for a long period.

Certainly it will require changed mindset and that is not easy given Afghanistan play Tests so rarely…

The mindset of cricketers from T-20 to Test cricket does need to change. A couple of players who played against the West Indies will get a chance to play. Our main target is the mindset as the Test match goes on for five days, whereas a T-20 match consists of 40 overs. The mindset is the main challenge as we play a lot of T-20 cricket compared to that of Test matches. We had a good campaign at Sharjah. We are talking about batting long and building a big and significant partnership, and for bowling, we are planning to take 20 wickets as without taking all the wickets, we cannot win a Test match.

What’s the experience of staying in bio-bubbles been like?

Playing in the bio-bubble is difficult as it is a big change; however, it is the new normal, and if you want to play international cricket, then we need to make peace with the situation instead of fighting it, and now one needs to be mentally prepared about the bio-bubble thing. In the bio-bubble, the main challenge is one cannot move freely or go to the pool or go to the gym, but most of the players have adapted this new normal situation. Our players must keep all these in mind and make sacrifices and must abide by the rules as we have responsibilities towards our fans as well.

Rahmat Shah had a brilliant series against Ireland with the bat? You must be looking forward to him doing the bulk of batting in the Test series?

Rahmat Shah has been brilliant. He batted really well against Ireland. His batting technique is amazing, but we are not only looking to one man. We have 7 to 8 batsmen, and we will be looking forward to batting as a unit and score over 400. We have other players who are batting really well. Hashmatullah [Shahidi] batted well against Ireland in one day, so we have many opportunities, so we are not focusing only on one man; instead, we are looking forward to batting as a unit.

How do you describe Asghar Afghan as a leader?

We have an excellent captain who leads from the front, and I am fortunate that the boys are very enthusiastic about playing for Afghanistan. We talked about the fact that when you all put on the jersey at that time, you play for the badge on the front of your chest, which symbolizes that you are representing the people of Afghanistan, which is a huge responsibility and motivation, but when you play for any franchise, you play for yourself and the name on your back.

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