Turmoil delays Afghanistan cricket team's Sri Lanka departure for ODI series against Pakistan

A former ACB official said the transition has been peaceful so other activities including cricket is likely to continue as usual.

Published: 16th August 2021 11:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th August 2021 01:50 PM   |  A+A-

Afghanistan cricket team players during a practice session.

Afghanistan cricket team players during a practice session. (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Afghanistan cricket team's departure for Sri Lanka for a bilateral series against Pakistan has been delayed due to the recent turmoil in the country. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), however, claimed that the cricketers are safe and most of them are undergoing training for the upcoming tour.

​Star players including T20 captain Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb ur Rehman and Qais Ahmed are said to be in the United Kingdom playing for their respective franchises in The Hundred.

"Earlier, we could not leave as we were awaiting approval from the Sri Lankan government including its defence ministry. We now have procured all necessary permission from the Sri Lankan government but the Kabul airport is not functional at the moment," an ACB source closely monitoring the situation told this daily from Kabul.

A video of hundreds of people jostling to climb into an airplane parked at the airport went viral on Monday. As per Reuters, the Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority has also asked all transit aircraft to reroute, adding any transit through Kabul airspace would be uncontrolled.

"I am at the ACB office only. We all including the players are safe. Once we get the flight, we will fly out of the country for the bilateral series. But that looks unlikely at least for a few days," added the source.

The series was earlier scheduled in the UAE. However, it has to be shifted to Sri Lanka due to the unavailability of venues as the remaining IPL is scheduled to be played there. The bilateral series, which incidentally will be the first between Afghanistan and Pakistan, comprises three ODIs. The matches will be played in Hambantota on September 3, 5 and 8.

Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Saturday with the Taliban taking over the presidential palace on Sunday night. Even Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi had made an appeal on a social networking site to the world leaders to help their country.

The source, however, affirmed that there is nothing to worry about. A former ACB official also said the transition has been peaceful so other activities including cricket is likely to continue as usual.

"We were scheduled to host Australia and West Indies in India before the T20 World Cup. Now that looks unlikely as Australia are unwilling to tour. But we will organise the domestic T20 league here in Afghanistan to ensure the players get much needed practice before the World Cup," said the source.


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