Pak vs Afg: Pakistan issues visas to Afghanistan cricketers for ODI series

Web Desk
Shaheen Afridi jumps into the air after dismissing an Afghanistan batsman. Photo: AFP
Shaheen Afridi jumps into the air after dismissing an Afghanistan batsman. Photo: AFP

  • Afghanistan cricketers are expected to arrive today or tomorrow. 
  • ODI series is scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka. 
  • If Sri Lanka refuses, Pakistan may host the ODI series. 

ISLAMABAD: The three-match ODI series between Pakistan and Afghanistan is back on track as Islamabad has issued visas to Afghan cricketers. 

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry Sunday took to Twitter to wish the Afghan cricketers, saying that he hoped they will bring "smiles to the faces of their people". 

The Afghan cricketers are expected to arrive in Pakistan either by Monday or Tuesday, as per a report in The News

“Yes, the entire Afghan cricket contingent has been granted visas by Pakistan and they are expected to cross the border into Pakistan anytime on Monday or Tuesday,” a source told The News.

The cricket series was in doubt due to the uncertainty in the war-torn country following the Taliban takeover last week. 

Tough task for PCB

The three-match One-Day series between Pakistan and Afghanistan is part of the World Cup 2023 qualification. It is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in the first week of September. 

However, Sri Lanka has imposed a nation-wide lockdown till August 30 owing to rising cases of coronavirus, which had dampened the series' prospects.

Under the prevailing circumstances, it would not be easier for the Sri Lanka Board possibly to organize the series. “Yes, that is right Sri Lanka is under tough COVID-19 restrictions and the country may well not be in a position to host the series. In that scenario, the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) possibly has sought PCB help to sort out the issue,” the source said.

As the situation stands today, chances of Pakistan hosting the Afghanistan home series are growing with each passing day.

“Afghanistan Cricket Board is waiting for the final decision from the Sri Lanka Board which may come on Monday. The position will be much clearer after that,” said the source.

In that case, the PCB will be facing a tough ask, ranging from organizing the training schedule for the visitors, preparing the venue within days, and making all arrangements to maintain strict COVID-19 SOPs for the purpose.

“It would not be easier at this point in time for Pakistan to host the series due to numerous serious challenges [when it comes to] hosting teams in a successful manner,” an official told The News.

He said the PCB had earlier offered ACB to play the series in Pakistan. “The PCB had in fact offered Afghan Cricket to play the series in Pakistan instead of Sri Lanka but it preferred the island. Now it would be really tough for the PCB to make all the arrangements within days. Teams training, hotel booking, venue selection and on top of all that security measures for the purpose are challenging issues,” he said.