Afghanistan under the Taliban

Taliban approve Afghanistan's first major cricket match since takeover

Cricket's popularity exploded in Afghanistan during the last 20 years
Cricket's popularity exploded in Afghanistan during the last 20 years HOSHANG HASHIMI AFP

The Taliban have approved Afghanistan's first cricket match - against Australia - since their takeover, raising hopes that international matches will continue as usual under the Islamists. 

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"We have got approval to send the team to Australia," chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board Hamid Shinwari told AFP.

During their first stint in power, before they were ousted in 2001, the Taliban banned most forms of entertainment -- including many sports -- and stadiums were used as public execution venues.

The hardline Islamists do not mind cricket, however, and the game is popular among many fighters.

They have also promised to enforce a less strict version of Islamic law this time, after seizing the capital Kabul last month.

The Test match, to be played in Hobart from  27th November to 1st  of December, was scheduled for last year but was put off due to the Covid-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions.

It will be Afghanistan's first Test in Australia. Afghanistan has never faced Australia in the five-day format – the national side has only played six Test matches since the ICC awarded it full member status in 2017.

Under-19 cricket team

Before the Australia tour, the Afghanistan team will feature in the Twenty20 World Cup, to be held in the United Arab Emirates from October 17-November 15.

Shinwari also confirmed Afghanistan's Under-19 cricket team will tour Bangladesh for a bi-lateral later this month.

Since the evacuation of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept into Kabul last month there were fears that cricket and other sports would be hit.

But ACB officials categorically said that cricket was supported by the Taliban.

Afghanistan's home ODI series against Pakistan -- shifted to Sri Lanka -- was however cancelled until next year over logistical and Covid-19 issues last week.

(With AFP)

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