Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi among many others to feature in Afghanistan Premier League

The inaugural edition is set to commence on October 5.

Officials at the launch of Afghanistan Premier League
Officials at the launch of Afghanistan Premier League. (Photo Source: Khaleej Times)
Shubham Ghosh

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Afghanistan, who made their World Cup debut in 2015 and played their maiden Test in June against India, are now set to start their own Twenty20 league and it is going to be a starry affair. The Afghanistan Premier League (APL), administered by their Cricket Board (ACB), will take place between October 5 and 23 though it will take place beyond the borders of Afghanistan, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The tournament will comprise five teams named after various provinces of Afghanistan (Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia and Balkh) and will take place in Sharjah. The logo of the competition was unveiled by the ACB in Dubai on Monday.

What is big for the tournament is that it has attracted some big names of world cricket for its inaugural edition, including Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Brendon McCullum, Shahid Afridi, Misbah ul Haq, Kumar Sangakkara, Tamim Iqbal and of course their own sensation Rashid Khan. The players will be picked through a draft play which will be held in Dubai in the first week of September.

“The Afghanistan Cricket Board has achieved in its short stint the Full Member status of the ICC (International Cricket Council) and Test status as well. We are delighted that today we witness the launch of our new league which will provide global fans and audience an opportunity to watch top class T20 cricket,” Khaleej Times quoted Shafiqullah Stanikzai, CEO of the ACB, as saying in Dubai on Monday.

“And the logo that we have unveiled today symbolizes the spirit of Afghanistan as a country. It represents the nature of the Afghan people who are truly patriotic and who now have fallen in love with the great game of cricket.”
The inaugural season will see 23 matches and the organisers are expecting a big turnout at the venue.

Afghanistan’s phenomenal rise

“The rise of Afghanistan cricket has been phenomenal. The national team has performed brilliantly in recent years in international cricket and the cricket board has worked tirelessly to develop the sport in the country,” Atif Mashal, chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said on Monday.

“The success of Afghan players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman in various T20 leagues in the world has set a great example for young players in Afghanistan,” he said.

Mashal also added that the tournament was planned last year and eventually it is going to see the daylight this year.
The UAE have already been holding home games, including Test matches for Pakistan because of security reasons. It will now host a domestic T20 league of another nation on its soil. In 2014, the UAE had partially hosted the Indian Premier League owing to the national elections.

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