‘I'll hit them. If Bumrah, Arshdeep, Siraj…': Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz lands punch on India before Super Eights | Crickit
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‘I'll hit them. If Bumrah, Arshdeep, Siraj…': Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz lands punch on India before Super Eights

Jun 20, 2024 11:28 AM IST

India vs Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz is not at all flustered by the prospect of facing Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz has had a mixed T20 World Cup so far. It has been an all-or-nothing tournament for the Afghanistan opener. When he has got his eyes in, he has gone on to play a match-winning knock for his side. Like he did against Uganada (76) and New Zealand (80) in the group stage but in the last two matches against Papua New Guinea and the West Indies, he was dismissed for 11 and a duck. But he is still Afghanistan's biggest weapon at the top of the order.

Afghanistan batsmen Rahmanullah Gurbaz, right, and teammate Ibrahim Zadran run between wickets(AP)
Afghanistan batsmen Rahmanullah Gurbaz, right, and teammate Ibrahim Zadran run between wickets(AP)

Now that the tournament has shifted to the Super Eight stage — this is the first time Afghanistan has advanced to the second round of a World Cup — Gurbaz will have more responsibility. And his first assignment will not be easy. On Wednesday, he will be up against India in a Super Eight match in Barbados.

But Gurbaz is not at all flustered by the prospect of facing Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya. If anything, he promised to hit it out of the park if the Indian seamers bowl it in his half.

"Honestly, my target is not just Jasprit Bumrah. I will look to target all (Indian) bowlers there are five bowlers who generally bowl and I have to tackle them. It's just a battle against Bumrah. Maybe another bowler could get me out. But yes, If I get a chance to hit him (Bumrah), let's go for it. It could be Bumrah, Arshdeep or Siraj. If anyone bowls in my area, then I'll hit them. Either I'll hit them or I will get out," Gurbaz told ICC before the match.

The right-handed keeper-batter is no stranger to facing the Indian quicks. He has been playing in the IPL for the two seasons and has achieved success while opening the batting for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Known for taking the attack to the bowlers in the powerplay, Gurbaz said Afghanistan no longer are satisfied as participants in a World Cup; they believe they can win it.

"We've played in the World Cups before, but there's a huge difference (this time). Previously, our mindset was just to participate in the World Cup. But now our mindset is that we should go and be the champions. There's no pressure on us to be champions. We don't have those expectations. But we're taking it one game at a time. Our focussed on that and hope we achieve our goals and qualify for the semi-final first and then to the final," he said.

Afghanistan qualified for the Super Eight stage by hammering New Zealand, PNG, and Uganda. They did lose to the table-toppers West Indies in their last group-stage game, but the Rashid Khan-led side has shown enough promise in this tournament to give every team a scare.

"As you see in the IPL, we've got a lot of players playing a lot of T20 cricket around the world and now it's about putting that together as a side I think in the past we've had some good individual players, but we need all those players playing together as a side and we've seen that at times in the group stage. So that's really exciting going into tomorrow's game, and you're here at a great venue like Barbados that only sets up well against a side like India. That's an added bonus," said Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott.

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