Afghanistan to play next Test in February

Though the exact dates have not yet been finalised, the Asghar Stanikzai-led side is set to play Ireland in its next Test outing in February, next year.

The Afghanistan Board officials have assured that efforts will be taken to ensure more exposure for the players in the longer format of the game.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Had things gone as per plan, Monday would have been the fifth day of Afghanistan’s first-ever Test. But with a star-studded India line-up making light work of the visitor at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Afghanistan will have to wait seven months before donning its Test whites again.

Although the exact dates have not yet been finalised, Sportstar has learnt that the Asghar Stanikzai-led side will play Ireland in February, next year.

“We need to invest more on Test cricket, though it is a challenging task for us as a cricket board, in terms of finance (to host Test matches),” Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO, Shafiq Stanikzai, told this publication.

Interestingly, that could also be Ireland’s second Test match—after making its debut against Pakistan last month. Though there’s no final confirmation on Ireland’s next Test fixture either.Afghanistan will travel to Ireland in August this year for a limited-overs series.

The Board officials have assured that efforts will be taken to ensure more exposure for the players in the longer format of the game.

“We need to install a comprehensive development programme for our junior sides like U-23 and ‘A’ side.

"But we need to convince ourselves that if we want to become good cricketing and good Test playing team by 2022, we need to invest more on that,” Stanikzai said.

Even the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has extended its help to the Afghanistan players by ensuring that all international teams touring India play at least one practice game against Afghanistan; however, it could be the A team or the younger sides.