Bengaluru: India wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik is enamoured by Afghanistan's beautiful journey in international cricket but that has not held him back from shooting off a veiled warning to the newcomers.
"Clearly all their spinners put together wouldn't have played that many matches that (a young) Kuldeep Yadav (24 first-class matches) would have played in four-day cricket," Karthik said ahead of the historic one-off Test against Afghanistan starting Thursday.
Factually, he was correct as Kuldeep's 24 first-class games including two Test matches is 13 more than the aggregate of 11 four-day games between three of their specialist spinners — Rashid Khan (4), Zahir Khan (7) and Zadran (0).
Karthik was all praise for what the war-ravaged country has achieved on the cricketing arena but politely reminded rival captain Asghar Stanikzai about why Indian spinners are far ahead of the T20 sensations like Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran.
Recently, after routing Bangladesh in a three-match T20 series, Stanikzai said that Afghanistan have better quality spinners than India.
"I don't know what the person (Stanikzhai) had said but you have got to understand that we have got a lot of experience, not only in Test match cricket but a lot of domestic cricket, a lot of four-day matches."
Karthik said that value of experience can never be undermined, a testimony is a whopping 476 Test wickets between Ravichandran Ashwin (311) and Ravindra Jadeja (165 wickets).
"Experience at the end of the day has a lot of value as you saw with CSK in IPL. I am very sure that they (Afghanistan) would be better bowlers by the start of the next Test match than what they are now," Karthik had words of encouragement for the rookies.
He feels that Afghanistan spinners' phenomenal show in shorter versions can be transformed in longer versions also.
"The kind of improvement they have shown in white ball cricket has been phenomenal. There is no reason why they can't do it in red ball cricket. But I would say our spinners have a lot of experience and I would say experience can't be easily bought. I am sure their players will also vouch for that."
The wicket-keeper batsman said that Afghanistan's journey should be put into perspective simply because what the players have achieved in an environment of turmoil.
"Oh it's a beautiful journey isn't it? It's been a highlight for ICC to have a Test nation in Afghanistan. Not many people knew Afghanistan played cricket. We all know what a tough place it is and the kind of turmoil they go through and despite that, they are able to inspire people with their performances," the 33-year-old Tamil Nadu stumper said.
"You have to give them credit. They are trying to beat all the odds with little infrastructure that they have got. I hope they get to play a lot of Test cricket. In two years, they have had household names (like Rashid). Not only are they competing in shorter formats but are also winning series (Bangladesh).
Afghanistan could be a template for other countries that nothing is impossible.
"(Their emergence is) good for the sport as well. Many countries can take this route and take the challenge and do as well as they can. It will be a fabulous story in the history of their country," added Karthik, who is set to play his first Test in more than eight years.