London: Rashid Khan, the newly appointed Afghanistan captain, said he was mentally ready for the position, adding that when it comes to national duties one has to be ready to lead.
Rashid, who was given the duties to lead the team in the shortest format earlier, was named to helm Afghanistan across all three formats. He replaced Gulbadin Naib, who was appointed as ODI captain just before the World Cup.
“I wasn’t quite surprised. I was already the vice-captain, which means you are the upcoming captain. Mentally, I was ready for it. Yes, it happened very quickly, but when it comes to the national team, when it comes to the country, you always have to be ready to lead. I’ll try my best to lead as well as possible,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Rashid, as saying.
Afghanistan’s performance did not reflect in the recently-concluded World Cup as the team remained winless and lost all nine round-robin fixtures. Reflecting on the same, Rashid said going forward the team needs to be mentally strong, fit for such competitions.
“From here, we have to take steps. We have seen the World Cup, we have seen the oppositions and what should be the proper preparation for them, and we have to be very strong mentally. We have to be fully fit for such competitions and we have to be well-prepared. We are not playing with Associate teams right now, we are playing with the Full Members, so we have to be well-planned and prepared.
The 20-year-old said that Afghanistan is talented and skilled but need to improve in fitness. Rashid added that cricketers coming into the national team need to work on their mental aspect, believe in oneself and work hard.
“The most important thing is fitness, we have to be very fit. These are the things we need to improve on in upcoming years to be a better side, a side that can beat any team. We have the talent, we have the skills. We just need to bring improvement in that,” he said.
“You need to have worked on your skills, not that when you come to the national side you start working on it. Once you come to the national side, you have to work on the mental aspect (more). And being a youngster, you should always believe in yourself and work hard. Then you can achieve anything,” he remarked.
The next World Cup 2023 will be hosted in India, while the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 will take place in Australia. Rashid stressed that his team needs to learn how to play against big teams.
“That (2023 World Cup) is something that is a very big challenge for us. As I said, we have the skills and talent, but we need to improve. We need to know how to play against the big teams and what should be the proper preparation against them. As we saw, we were struggling in this World Cup. (But) I think the 2023 World Cup, it’s a little bit far. The focus and target right now is the T20 World Cup in Australia,” he said.
Rashid said that Afghanistan needs to play more games against top teams as it will help them to improve.
“We will show how we are better, and show how we can do better compared to the last World Cup. We just need to keep improving and bringing down the number of mistakes we have done in the past. In T20s, especially, we have the ability and we have the best team (that we can have),” he said.
“And for 2023, we should know that from hereon, there should be proper preparation for 50 overs. The more we play against the top teams, the better we will be. So looking forward to more games and series with the big teams,” Rashid added.