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Tendulkar will always remain an inspiration, says Mangal

Nawroz Mangal

Colombo: Afghanistan’s captain, Nawroz Mangal, spoke to The Telegraph at the Taj Samudra (in a mix of languages) on Tuesday afternoon. The 28-year-old was excited about the World Twenty20, which began later in the day.

Mangal, incidentally, had been Afghanistan’s captain in the last edition (2010), too.

The following are excerpts

Background...

We’re from Khost... After the Soviet invasion (in 1979), we’d fled to Peshawar as refugees... We returned to Afghanistan in 2005... Apne watan to wapas jana hi tha.

If he’s a full-time cricketer...

Yes.

His inspiration...

Sachin Tendulkar... When I was younger, I couldn’t pronounce his family name... Tendulkar bolna mushkil hota tha... Now, of course, it’s not an issue. He’ll always remain an inspiration.

Being crazy about Sachin...

Absolutely... There was a time I’d write Sachin’s name on my right palm before going out to bat! I’ve been that crazy... When we were in Peshawar, those around me would urge me to support Pakistan, for I’d get very upset if Sachin got out in an Indo-Pak match.

If he’s met Sachin...

It’s a regret that I haven’t met him... Hopefully, that day isn’t far off.

Some suggesting that Sachin should only focus on Test cricket now...

Look, this decision must be left to Sachin alone. Others can’t decide for him.

On Team India’s fan following in Afghanistan...

Massive... In Afghanistan, more people support India than they support Pakistan.

Having to captain against India on Wednesday...

As a professional, it will be my job to do my best... It’s my duty.

Captaining a team which isn’t expected to beat the big guns...

It’s a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I’ve accepted. We’ve qualified for the World Twenty20.

If he finds himself under pressure...

No. People (teammates, fans) trust me, believe that I’ll only do what’s good for Afghanistan.

Role model captain...

Two... Steve Waugh and Daniel Vettori. Both led so calmly and led with a big heart. Dil se kaptani kari.

If he’s fond of Hindi movies...

I’m a big fan of Aamir Khan. Among actresses, Kareena Kapoor is my favourite... She’s classy.

Listening to songs coming out of Bollywood...

I enjoy anything from Mohammed Aziz, Sonu Nigam and Pankaj Udhas... Mazaa aata hai.

The last one... A dream of his...

(Emotionally) To qualify for the 50-over World Cup in 2015... This is our second World Twenty20, now we’d like to graduate to the 50-over game... It’s a collective dream.