Monday Aug 16 2021

Afghanistan-Pakistan cricket series in doubt after Taliban takeover

Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates after dismissing an Afghanistan batsman. Photo: AFP
Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates after dismissing an Afghanistan batsman. Photo: AFP

  • The Pakistan-Afghanistan 3 match T20 series was set to begin on September 1. 
  • Afghanistan cricket team is scheduled to play in the T20 World Cup in October. 
  • Sri Lankan officials awaiting a response from the Afghanistan team stated Sri Lanka's Cricket secretary. 

Officials of the Sri Lankan cricket board are unable to guarantee whether the T20 match series between Afghanistan and Pakistan will start on September 1 after the Taliban came into power. 

Sri Lanka's cricket board announced on Monday that it will go ahead with arrangements to host a T20 series between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Afghanistan's cricket team was also scheduled to play in the T20 World Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates in October which is also in doubt now. 

The Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 frowned upon organised sport. 

Star spin bowler and T20 captain Rashid Khan and all-rounder Mohammad Nabi are currently playing The Hundred tournament in England. 

Both players have made pleas for peace in their country before the Taliban takeover.

Most national players are in Afghanistan

"Efforts are being made to check their [Afghan cricket players] whereabouts," said an international cricket official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Sri Lanka's cricket board said it was still hoping to host Afghanistan and Pakistan for the three matches in an empty stadium at Hambantota.

The series was originally set to take place in Dubai but was shifted to Sri Lanka because it clashed with the Indian Premier League which also starts in September in the UAE.

"We have told them that we are ready to host the tournament," Sri Lanka Cricket secretary Mohan de Silva told AFP. "All the preparations are underway."

De Silva added that given the current situation in Kabul, they aren't sure if the series will be able to go ahead. The Sri Lankan officials are awaiting a response from Afghanistan Cricket Board. 

De Silva said that because of coronavirus precautions, the two teams should be in Sri Lanka by next week to begin the matches in September.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board website said its national squad met top officials on August 7 and were told that they would be "rewarded handsomely" for a good performance against Pakistan.

In its latest post dated August 9, the board said it had appointed former Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait as the national team bowling coach.