ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan will play a T20I series against Pakistan from March 25-29 in Sharjah, the Pakistan Cricket Board announced on Tuesday, kicking off Afghanistan’s international home season for 2023-24.
Afghanistan has played Pakistan several times in ACC and ICC events in recent years, but this will be the first time the two countries meet in a three-match T20I series. Pakistan are also scheduled to play another three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in August 2023.
“We appreciate Pakistan Cricket Board’s willingness to play Afghanistan in March,” Afghanistan Cricket Board Chairman Mirwais Ashraf, was quoted as saying in a PCB statement.
“This is a significant accomplishment for two neighboring countries.”
Ashraf said Afghanistan looked forward to extending its ties and partnership with the PCB.
“Overall, we are excited to host and play Pakistan in what will be a thrilling series of cricket games between the two countries,” he added.
Chair of the PCB Management Committee, Najam Sethi, said he was “delighted” that inaugural Pakistan versus Afghanistan T20I series would be played later this month “in a city that has a large ex-pat community and which has always supported cricketers from both countries.”
“The PCB and ACB enjoy a strong and cordial relationship that goes back to the 1990s. Even today, Afghanistan players are hugely popular in the HBL PSL,” Sethi said.
“I am sure when cricketers from both sides will wear national jerseys for the upcoming international series, they will demonstrate the highest levels of performances and entertain the passionate and cricket-loving crowds.”
Last year, Australia’s men’s team pulled out of a three-match, one-day international series with Afghanistan to have been held in March in the United Arab Emirates, following further curbs on women’s and girls’ rights imposed by the hard-line Taliban administration.
Despite decades of violence and upheaval, Afghanistan has an enthusiastic and widespread cricket following.
Australia were scheduled to play a test match against Afghanistan in November 2021 but the fixture was postponed after the Taliban took power in August that year.
The ACB has criticized Australia’s decision, saying it had put political interests over sportsmanship and that cricket had contributed to education and social development in the country.
Following Australia’s pullout, the PCB said “cricket and politics should be kept separate.”