Pakistan-Afghanistan ODI series postponed until next year

Published August 24, 2021
In this file photo, Afghanistan's Asghar Afghan (R) is watched by Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed as he hits a six during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Headingley in Leeds on June 29. — AFP
In this file photo, Afghanistan's Asghar Afghan (R) is watched by Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed as he hits a six during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Headingley in Leeds on June 29. — AFP

A one-day series between Pakistan and Afghanistan, scheduled for next month in Sri Lanka, has been postponed until 2022 following the Taliban's takeover of power in Afghanistan.

The two countries were due to play three ODI matches in early September in Sri Lanka, but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said late on Monday that the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had requested the series be postponed.

“The PCB has accepted the 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,” the PCB tweeted.

"The two boards have agreed that the series, which was planned from September 1-8, will be rescheduled for 2022," the statement said.

“We have worked very closely with the ACB to make this series happen and were keen to play them in the inaugural bilateral series, but we understand their challenges and have, therefore, agreed to reschedule the series for 2022," PCB Director International Cricket Zakir Khan.

“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 the sides in terms of direct qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup," he said.

With commercial flights from Kabul airport yet to resume, media reports said the Afghanistan team had been looking to travel to Pakistan by road and fly to Colombo via Dubai.

But the logistical challenges increased after Sri Lanka last week announced a 10-day lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, as surging infections and deaths overwhelm the island's health system.

The Taliban have said they would not interfere with men's cricket in the country, Afghanistan's biggest sporting success of recent years. The fate of the women's programme, however, remains unclear.

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