Afridi, Gibbs to reunite in Afghanistan!

Known to be big hitters for their respective nations, Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and South Africa's Herschelle Gibbs will join forces in Kabul for the Sphageeza Cricket League. Afridi will be star player for the Muslimyar Speenghar Tigers while Gibbs will coach the side.

Shahid Afridi and Herschelle Gibbs pictured during their time at IPL side Deccan Chargers.   -  Vivek Bendre

Only the other day the cricketing fraternity was mesmerised by the way Shahid Afridi slammed a century for Hampshire in the Natwest T20 Bash. The former Pakistan captain put Derbyshire bowlers to the sword, scoring 101 off just 42 deliveries. Now, the superstar is all set to travel to Kabul for the Sphageeza Cricket League, beginning next week. “I’ll be playing in the Afghan T20 league supporting and promoting peace through cricket,” Afridi confirmed.

The Pakistani will lead Muslimyar Speenghar Tigers in the tournament, which will feature some of the known names of international cricket. Joining Afridi will be another big-hitter Herschelle Gibbs, though as the coach of the Speenghar Tigers. The former South Africa batsman will be making his coaching debut in this tournament.

Confirming this to Sportstar on Sunday, Gibbs admitted that he is looking forward to the new assignment. “Yes, I will be joining the Speenghar Tigers as the coach,” he said. He would be travelling for the next couple of days to reach Kabul for the tournament, Gibbs added. Organised by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), the league is styled like the Indian Premier League (IPL), with some of the corporate groups of Afghanistan buying the franchises.

Sportstar was the first to report about the league, which earlier was scheduled to be held from July 18-28. But the tournament ran into rough weather after a bomb blast in Kabul. Eventually, the ACB decided to sever ties with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), leading to the latter refusing to issue No Objection Certificates to its players.

But things changed last month following a meeting between the ACB chief, Atif Mashal, and his PCB counterpart Najam Sethi. In the ACC meeting in Colombo last month, the boards' top brass decided to bury the hatchet and the Pakistan players were eventually given the go-ahead to play in the Sphageeza League.

In his first-ever interview to an Indian media, Mashal had informed Sportstar that Afridi will be travelling to Kabul for the league. “Shahid Afridi will come to play in Kabul. Only those Pakistani cricketers who have central contract might not be available because of international commitments. The rest will come. We have also got NOC for the West Indies and Bangladesh players,” the ACB chief had said then.

With the league set to begin on September 12, it is also learnt that former Afghanistan coach Andy Moles and former West Indies coach Gus Logie will be taking charge as coaches in the league. With some of the big names coming to play in the league, the war-ridden Afghanistan will at least have something to cheer about in the next few weeks!

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