Afghanistan one of the dark horses in T20 World Cup: Lance Klusener | Cricket News

CHENNAI: Afghanistan may not have the tag of favourites heading into the T20 World Cup but head coach Lance Klusener clearly feels the side can surprise many teams as they kick off the campaign against a Qualifier in Group 2 on October 25. The 50-year-old allrounder, who featured in 49 Tests and 171 ODIs for South Africa, told TOI on his team’s preparations ahead of the high-profile tournament, the players to watch out for and more.
Excerpts:
How do you assess Afghanistan’s preparation before the tournament?
We definitely have a good side with some experienced T20 players who have played across leagues around the world such as Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi and a few others. Afghanistan are one of the dark horses in the tournament. No side will take us lightly as situations change very quickly in a T20. We are in the group with star-studded sides like India, Pakistan and New Zealand, and hope to put up a good show. A few of our players have been playing in leagues across the world while the rest have been training in Afghanistan. That should stand our players in good stead.
With a new regime in place in Afghanistan since August this year, how has it impacted the players’ psyche?
I think the Taliban regime has been great supporters and promoters of cricket. Our players have been practicing hard for the tournament. They have been putting in the hard yards at nets back home. Those Afghanistan players who have featured in T20 leagues and even The Hundred in the last few months have had a lot of game time under their belt. I feel our players are in good shape physically and mentally for the T20 World Cup.
Who — according to you — are the players likely to be making an impact in the tournament?
It is going to be a T20 World Cup where spin bowling allrounders will make a big impact. With the wickets assisting the spinners, teams will bet big on the slow-ball bowling allrounders. The likes of Rashid Khan, R Ashwin, Shakib Al Hasan and Moeen Ali among others could make a big impression on these pitches. But if there is one allrounder I would love to see in action — it has to be Hardik Pandya. If Hardik goes on to bowl, it will certainly be huge for India.
How do you see the chances of South Africa performing at the event?
They have a strong squad with players who are featuring in various T20 leagues around the world. It is about how they execute their plans on a given day and South Africa are one of the dark horses in the competition. T20 is anyone’s game and it is very difficult to predict favourites.
With a majority of teams ahead of the T20 WC bringing in former players — India going for MS Dhoni as team mentor — how does it impact the dressing room atmosphere?
Dhoni is a player who has done it all. A player of his caliber brings a sense of calm to the dressing room atmosphere. Afghanistan have brought in Andy Flower as a consultant for the event and teams such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka have roped in former players too. The ex-players such as Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Andy, Stephen Fleming and others could play a role in giving those little insights which can make a huge difference in the crunch moments of a game.
Your thoughts on Rahul Dravid looking set to become the next Indian coach?
Having played alongside Dravid on numerous occasions — his cricketing credentials are second to none. On the coaching front, Dravid has done well with the U-19 Indian teams and recently with the senior side in Sri Lanka. He will have good personal knowledge of youngsters knocking on the national team door and having played alongside players such as Virat Kohli — Dravid will be able to assess other players better. If Dravid takes over as the Indian coach, it will only bring more stability to this already strong unit.

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