Afghanistan are all set to make their historic Test debut against India in Bangalore, and, understandably, their meteoric rise on the international circuit was the major talking point in newspapers on Wednesday (June 13)

Elswhere, Zaheer Khan was felicitated by Adelaide Oval cricket ground for his contribution to cricket, while Australia are all set to embark on a new era of ‘respectful’ cricket under the leadership of Tim Paine.

Afghan cricket — a stunning tale of courage and passion (The Hindu)
Rugged unforgiving terrain, lurking danger, armed warlords, kalashnikovs, terror strikes… Afghanistan brings to mind strong, often disturbing, images. Bombs snuff out hopes, end lives. Yet, amidst all the devastation and suffering, cricket, miraculously, has not just survived but grown in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan ready for the ‘great game’ (The Indian Express)
Afghanistan are cricket’s joie de vivre and the ICC should revel in their march to the top. Till the mid 1990s, the sport didn’t exist in the war-ravaged country. About 20 years down the line, they will turn up for their first-ever Test match, commencing in two days, thriving on an all-indigenous participation.

How to ease Afghanistan’s progress in cricket (The Hindu)
After blanking Bangladesh in the T20 series in Dehradun, Afghanistan is set to play their first ever Test match at Bengaluru against India. This historic moment is yet another marker of the team’s progress and, at the same time, a wonderful opportunity for the players to test themselves against elite opposition. The news of their country’s cricket team doing well would have, no doubt, brought a lot of joy to their supporters.

Every Indian player is a Virat Kohli, says Afghanistan cricket captain Asghar Stanikzai (DNA)
“Team depends on 11 players, not one. If Virat Kohli was here, it would have been more fun playing the Test, with the kind of experience he has and the manner in which he plays Test cricket. If you see Team India, all the players are Virat Kohli for us. For us it’s not that Virat Kohli is special or there is no one. Ever Indian player is a Virat Kohli. All are good players and have good experience in Test cricket. I think it won’t make a difference if one player comes and goes, it won’t make much of a difference. If Virat Kohli would have been here, we would have enjoyed it, and so is the case if MS Dhoni was around. Even he is not here. A player hopes to play against a tough team, if there is no Virat Kohli, it doesn’t mean that India will become weak. If there is Virat Kohli or not, it will matter less to the Indian team.”

Gautam Gambhir takes a dig at Bishan Singh Bedi, Chetan Chauhan after ‘outsider’ Navdeep Saini gets India call (The Indian Express)
Gambhir on Tuesday wrote, in a tweet, “My ‘condolences’ to few DDCA members, @BishanBedi @ChetanChauhanCr on the selection of ‘outsider’ Navdeep Saini to India squad. Am told black armbands are available in Bangalore too for INR 225 per roll!!! Sir, just remember Navdeep is an Indian first then comes his domicile @BCCI,” on his social media handle.

Zaheer Khan felicitated at Adelaide Oval for his contribution to cricket (The Indian Express)
Former Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan was felicitated by Adelaide Oval cricket ground last week on Saturday, during his recent visit to Australia with his wife Sagarika Ghatge.

Australia itching to begin their new era (Cricket Australia)
It has been 80 days since the ball tampering scandal broke and Australia’s one-day side are itching to play their first international since that now-infamous Test tour.

They will get their chance Wednesday in the first of five ODIs when they meet England at The Oval. New captain, new coach and new personnel in the on and off-field groups give this Australian outfit a fresh look – just three players in this squad were in South Africa – and this is a side keen to draw a line between events in Cape Town and now.

Australia eager to show they’ve cleaned up their act after ball-tampering scandal (Independent)
For Australia, this one-day series against England is the first chance to start healing the wounds and repairing the damage from a tour of South Africa infamously scarred by the ball-tampering affair.

That sense of regeneration will be apparent shortly before the opening match at The Oval when the Australians shake hands with Eoin Morgan and his players on the outfield.

England’s Moeen ready to tame Lyon (Cricket Australia)
“He’s bowled really well and got me out a few times. But you don’t get medals for getting guys out all the time. Who cares? I’m just moving on.”

We all make mistakes – Darren Sammy welcomes Steve Smith’s return to cricket (Hindustan Times)
“We have all made our fair share of mistakes in life, not just in sports but in general. Obviously Steve Smith is an amazing cricketer, someone who I would have on my team any day.”

T20I skipper to change? (The Daily Star)
It was learned that vice-captain Mahmudullah Riyad is being considered in the T20I role for the two T20Is but it is still undecided whether the change will take place in the upcoming tour. Shakib, who was reappointed T20I skipper last year, has lost six and won just one match in charge.

Shelley Nitschke: ‘It’s a good time to be involved in cricket’ (The Guardian)
“There are a lot of opportunities now for women to go into coaching and selecting, and as the game grows that encourages more past players to get involved. The opportunities are there and there are a lot more entry points now too – you don’t have to go straight to coaching a team, you can do some assisting with underage teams and really build a pathway to work into.”

Scotland should be at Cricket World Cup – here’s how they could be next time (The Guardian)
Here is a rough guide to how things could be improved: a 14-team competition which requires qualification for two or four sides since the recent tournament in Zimbabwe, from which Afghanistan and West Indies emerged as the finalists and therefore participants in the 2019 World Cup, was such a riveting and worthwhile event.

There would be two groups of seven sides which all play each other. The top team in each group would have a safe passage to their semi-final; second and third in each group would play eliminators to reach a semi-final, as is the case in the Royal London Cup.