The ODI series between the Afghanistan cricket team and the Pakistan cricket team, which was slated to begin from September 3 has been rescheduled to 2022 after a formal announcement was made by both the cricketing boards of the two nations on Monday, August 23.
The Afghanistan and Pakistan ODI series in 2021, officially labeled as a ‘home’ series for the Afghans, was initially planned to be held in the UAE. Furthermore, a contingency plan was also drawn up to host the three-game series at Hambantota in Sri Lanka prior to a 10-day lockdown that was enforced due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
"Until this evening we had principally agreed to play the series in Pakistan and we are thankful to Pakistan for all the support they offered," Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO Hamid Shinwari told ESPNCricinfo.
"But then considering all the situations, especially our players' mental readiness, we found that they are not prepared. We needed a camp and we needed time for them to acclimatise to the weather and conditions.”
"But with all the delay in making efforts to play in Sri Lanka, we have lost enough time and now making a trip to Pakistan without preparation in such a short time isn't working for our players. Pakistan is a good team and playing them at home, you need to be fully prepared, which unfortunately, we are not, so we have decided to postpone it indefinitely," Shinwari added.
PCB has accepted ACB's request to postpone next month’s ODI series due to players’ mental health issues, disruption in flight operations in Kabul, lack of broadcast facilities and increased Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka. Both boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022.— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 23, 2021
The three-match series between the two countries was supposed to be part of the One-day Super League, which is the qualification process for the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India.
“The PCB historically enjoys an excellent relationship with the ACB and will do everything to ensure the series is played in 2022 as it is critical for both sides in terms of direct qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) director Zakir Khan said.
Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, there have been questions raised about the future of the cricket team.
Afghanistan's 17-member team for the ODI series had assembled in Kabul last week while Pakistan, on their part, were yet to announce their squad citing lack of clarity.
The postponement of the Afghanistan versus Pakistan ODI series has led to increasing concerns about the availability of Afghanistan stalwarts Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi for the resumption of the Indian T20 League 2021 in UAE.
The Afghan duo were last seen in action during the inaugural Hundred competition in England, where Rashid - representing Trent Rockets - finished as the joint-highest wicket-taker (12 wickets).
Featured photo: AFO / Lindsey Parnaby