Andy Moles, Afghanistan's interim head coach, has played up their underdog tag ahead of the one-off Test against Bangladesh, but also warned against taking the visitors for granted. Afghanistan will be playing only their third Test match, as they look for batting consistency and a new beginning following a disastrous World Cup campaign.
Moles, who is Afghanistan's chief selector as well, said that teams find it hard tackling Bangladesh's spinners in home conditions. Shakib Al Hasan's men have won their last three Tests at home, crushing West Indies in November last year, with their four-pronged spin attack taking all 40 wickets.
"We have massive respect for Bangladesh team, they are a level above us, but we are not scared of them," Moles said. "We respect them. They have played some wonderful cricket at home for a long time. We are very much the underdogs. Top sides have found it hard work playing in Bangladesh. We are under no illusion that this is going to be a tough examination of our skills. If we could show application and concentration, we are capable of doing something special over the next five days.
"I am not surprised with [Bangladesh's] spin attack. I have seen the side they have picked in the last few games. It is called home advantage. I'd be surprised if they didn't come with a strong spin attack. We also have a reasonable spin attack."
Russell Domingo, who will be overseeing his first match as Bangladesh's head coach, is aware that Afghanistan would pose a threat but added that familiarity with their main players such as Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have helped reduce the surprise factor.
"Afghanistan are starting their Test journey, so they will be desperate to get a win," Domingo said. "They will feel the conditions might help them while it might be tougher for them in Australia, South Africa or England. They will be confident of springing us a surprise in the next couple of days.
"Quite a lot of our players have played against their spinners in the BPL. They have some match winners in Nabi and Rashid Khan. They are fantastic bowlers. We have to make sure we respect them while also looking to score some runs against them.
"It will be a way to exert pressure on their best bowlers. We know that it is going to be a big challenge in these conditions but it is something that we have prepared for in the last two weeks." Having taken over last month, Domingo hasn't had much time to assess the Bangladesh side but he said that he was happy with the intensity during the recent training camp. He added that, at the moment, he will wait and see how the selection process works, before being involved in it fully.
"It is going to be my first Test for Bangladesh. I want to see how they perform, and it is difficult to make wholesale changes to a system that has worked really well for them in the last couple of Tests.
"I am sitting back to see how things pan out for the first Test. The selectors and Shakib have led me to thinking in a certain way, and I am pretty comfortable with it before I imprint my way on to the team."