How will Afghanistan fare in their debut Test against India?

 By Kersi Meher-Homji

After a prolonged rest India will resume Test cricket today (14th June) against Afghanistan at Bengaluru.

India should not underrate newcomer Afghanistan as they are on a winning streak defeating Bangladesh 3-0 in one-day internationals this month.

Afghanistan are the 12th country to play Test cricket. Last month ago, Ireland became the 11th country to make their Test debut. It was against Pakistan at Dublin.

I have summarized Test debuts of all 12 countries in this article. Debuting countries are underlined.

Australia v. England, Melbourne – 15, 16, 17, 19 March, 1877

Australia won the toss and batted. With Charles Bannerman scoring 165 retired hurt, Australia totaled 245. He faced the first ball in Test cricket, scored the first run and became the first batsman to score a century. He scored 67.3 per cent of the team score (165 out of 245) which still remains a Test record.

England replied with 196, opener Henry Jupp scoring 63 and Australia’s William Midwinter taking 5-78. With England’s Alfred Shaw capturing 5-38 Australia tumbled to 104. Needing 154 runs for a win, England collapsed for 108 (Australia’s Tom Kendall 7-55) to lose by 45 runs.

By a coincidence, this result and margin of victory were exactly emulated on the same ground 100 years later in the Centenary Test.

South Africa v. England, Port Elizabeth – 12, 13 March, 1889

In a low scoring match lasting only two days, South Africa was dismissed for 84, skipper Charles Smith (later Sir Aubrey Smith of Hollywood fame) took 5-19 and John Brigg 4-39.

England replied with 148 (AR Innes 5-43) to lead by 64 runs. SA made 129 and England 2 for 67 to win by 8 wickets.

West Indies v. England, Lord’s, London – 23, 25, 26 June 1928

In a one-sided match, England amassed 401, George Ernest Tyldesley top-scoring with 122. West Indies were shot out for 177 (Vallance William Jupp 4-37) and 166 (England’s Alfred Freeman 4-37 and Jupp 3-66). England won by an innings and 58 runs.

New Zealand v. England, Christchurch – 10, 11 (no play), 13 January 1930

The New Zealanders’ Test debut was just as disappointing as South Africa’s and West Indies’s. In a way, this Test was a replay of South Africa’s first Test against England almost 51 years ago; no one scoring a 50 and both debutants losing to England by 8 wickets.

NZ was shot out for 112 (Roger Blunt 45, Maurice Allom 5-38 taking four wickets in five balls including the hat-trick in his Test debut) and 131 (Allom 3-17), England replying with 181 (KS Duleepsinhji 49) and 2 for 66.

India v. England, Lord’s, London – 25, 27, 28 June 1932

In reply to England’s 259 (skipper Douglas Jardine 79, Les Ames 65, Mohammad Nissar 5-93) and 275 (Jardine 85 not out and Eddy Paynter 54). India was dismissed for 189 (William Bowes 4-49) and 187 (L Amar Singh 51 at no. 9) to lose by 158 runs.

Pakistan v. India, Delhi – 16, 17, 18 October 1952

For the first time a debuting Test nation did not play against England. India scored 372 (Vijay Hazare 76, Hemu Adhikari 81 not out, Pakistan’s Amir Elahi 4-134). India’s master all-round spinner Vinoo Mankad was at his best capturing 8-52 and 5-79 as Pakistan was bowled out for 150 (Hanif Mohammad 51) and 152 to lose by an innings and 70 runs.

Sri Lanka v. England, Colombo – 17, 18, 20, 21 February 1982

Sri Lanka started their Test career promisingly making 218 (Ranjan Madugalle 65, Arjuna Ranatunga 54, Derek Underwood 5-28) and dismissing England (David Gower 89, Ashantha de Mel 4-70) for 223 to trail by only five runs.

John Emburey captured 6-33 and Underwood 3-67 as Sri Lanka could make only 175 (Roy Luke Dias 77) losing their last seven wickets for only eight runs off 68 balls. Chris Tavare hit 85 as England reached their winning target for the loss of three wickets to win by 7 wickets.

Zimbabwe v. New Zealand, Bulawayo – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 November 1992

Due to heavy rains, the first ever Test for Zimbabwe ended in a draw, so far the only draw concerning a debutant nation.

New Zealand declared at 3 for 325 on the third day, Mark Greatbatch 87, Rod Latham 119 and Andrew Jones 67 scoring freely. For Zimbabwe Andy Flower scored 81 as the debutants were all out for 219. Greatbatch (88) and Latham (48) were again involved in a century partnership and NZ declared at 5 for 222.

Zimbabwe started their second innings with a flourish scoring 1 for 197, opener Kevin Arnott scoring an unbeaten 101 as the match was left as a draw. Arnott became only the second cricketer after Charles Bannerman to score a century for a debuting country.

Bangladesh v. India, Dhaka – 10, 11, 12, 13 November 2000

Bangladesh started with a flourish, amassing 400 runs with a century (145) by Animul Islam. India’s slow, left arm spinner Sunil Joshi took 5-142. Joshi also top scored with 92. Opener Sadagoppan Ramesh scored 58 and skipper Saurav Ganguly 84 as India managed a narrow 29 run lead. Bangladesh captain and off-spinner Naimur Rahman took 6-132.

It promised to be an interesting contest but Bangladesh collapsed for 91 in the second innings as Joshi and Javagal Srinath captured three wickets each. India scored 1 for 64 to win by 9 wickets.

Ireland v. Pakistan, Dublin – 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 May 2018

Pakistan totalled 9 for 310 (Fahim Ashraf 83, Asad Shafiq 62, Shabab Khan 55, Ireland’s Tim Murtagh taking 4-45). With Mohammad Abbas almost unplayable, Ireland was shot out for 130 (Kevin O’Brien 40). Following on, Ireland fared much better with O’Brien scoring 118 and adding 104 runs with Stuart Thompson (53). They compiled a challenging 339, Abbas capturing 5-66 for a nine wicket haul.

With Imam-ul-Haq (74) and Babar Azam (59) adding126 runs Pakistan won the Test by 5 wickets.

Summary and highlights

Of the 12 debuting counties, Australia is the only one to win and Zimbabwe the only one to draw their initial match. Others started on a losing note.

Charles Bannerman (Australia), Kevin Arnott (Zimbabwe), Animul Islam (Bangladesh) and Kevin O’Brien (Ireland) are the only ones to score a century in their country’s Test debut.

William Midwinter and Tom Kendall (Australia), Alfred Shaw (England), AR Innes (South Africa), Mohammad Nissar (India) and Naimur Rahman (Bangladesh) are the only ones to take five wickets in an innings in their country’s Test debut.

England is the only country to stage a debut Test twice – both at Lord’s. India will become the second country to do so when they host the Test against Afghanistan today at Bengaluru. In 1952 Delhi was the venue of the Test between India and debutant nation Pakistan.

India has a good record against countries playing their first Test. In the 1952 Delhi Test India had devastated Pakistan by an innings and 70 runs, Vinoo Mankad capturing 13 wickets in the match. In 2000, India had also thrashed newcomers Bangladesh by 9 wickets in Dhaka, spinner Sunil Joshi grabbing eight wickets in the match.

Will India continue with her stunning record against debuting countries this week?

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