Afghanistan aim to play bilateral ODIs against India and teams touring India

Samiullah Shenwari Afghanistan
Afghanistan. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) is trying its best to ensure that the team gets to play more number of ODI matches which will help their cause for the 2019 World Cup qualification with September 2017 being the cut-off date. The ACB has put forward a proposal to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which aims to secure annual bilateral matches for the associate team against India and also the teams touring India from the next year.

ACB Chief Executive Shafiq Stanikzai was quoted by ESPNcricinfo saying, “If we sign the MOU which we sent to India, potentially Afghanistan Cricket Board will be in a better position than where we are right now, scheduling ODIs with India and scheduling ODIs with teams traveling to India on an annual basis,”


“But still it will be bilateral ties. If a traveling team to India wants to play us in India, it is totally up to them.”

He also added that the ACB had presented the draft proposal to the BCCI president Anurag Thakur in May and also had the opportunity to discuss it further during the ICC Annual Conference in Edinburgh. Though there is no response on the proposal yet from the BCCI.

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Afghanistan have shifted their home ground from Sharjah to Greater Noida, in the outskirts of New Delhi and Stanikzai feels that Afghanistan are well placed now geographically and rankings wise for fixtures against India and teams that tour India similar to how Ireland has managed to play more ODIs against teams touring England.

“Since induction into the FTP, a larger challenge arose for Afghanistan,” Stanikzai said. “A is arranging fixtures with Full Members and B is funding it and finding funds to accommodate your needs. The expectation of the Afghanistan people has grown immensely. Afghanistan Cricket Board is under tremendous amount of pressure by not having fixtures with Full Members. Comparatively, Ireland has obtained 14 [11] fixtures with Full Members.

“The advantage Ireland has is geographical and teams traveling to England getting quality cricket against Ireland … but Afghanistan is a totally different story… For us, being in the FTP, yeah the window has opened but the challenges are much greater.”

The ACB has also put a strategic plan in place which has set targets for the Afghanistan team in the coming years. While they aim to be one among the top-six ODI teams by 2019 the target is to be a top-three team in both T20Is and ODIs by the year 2025.

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Stanikzai is confident of achieving the targets given the fact that Afghanistan has made rapid growth on and off the cricket field. He, however, maintained that for them to sustain it they need to play more matches against Full Members.

“The biggest challenge for us for the time being is the competition structure or the fixtures for Afghanistan to compete against Full Members,” Stanikzai said. “That’s somewhere we are lacking and somewhere we need the support from ICC, or maybe Full Member boards should realise they need to make this great game more globalised and take it into the Associate world.

“Afghanistan team is rapidly growing and the flow that Afghanistan national team currently is in is quite brilliant. If we don’t get any fixtures – we don’t have any confirmed fixtures after our Holland game for the rest of the year – so we are in danger of losing the flow, the momentum we have gained so far in the last nine to 12 months.”

“Afghanistan needs to be considered in a very exceptional case,” Stanikzai said. “Obtaining UK visa cost me USD 80,000 for the team. We don’t have a UK High Commission in Afghanistan. We need to travel to India and obtain visas. Going there, staying there, it took us 21 days to obtain UK visa to make this tour possible. Playing Scotland and Ireland is costing us more than USD 350,000.

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“If we are to host a Full Member, we are able to cover 80-90% of the costs but if we are traveling to play any other Full Member and they are asking us to cover our own passage, it is an extra burden on us. So things need to balanced. Either we need to be in a regular competition, which this 13-member ODI league will help us quite drastically and prosper quite hugely, and the Test league is also another good prospect for us.”