We requested BCCI to play the first Test, says ACB chief

Afghanistan Cricket Board chief Atif Mashal admitted that the decision is a big boost to their cricket; the ACB will also name its new full-time coach this week.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board chairman Atif Mashal (left) with CEO Shafiq Stanikzai.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


For the last few months, there were speculations on who would Afghanistan face in its inaugural Test. All talks were put to rest on Monday, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) making it official that the new entrants in the Test arena will be playing against India in the first Test.

And, speaking to Sportstar — a few minutes after the announcement — Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief Atif Mashal admitted that they had requested the Indian Board to play the first Test in India. “It is a big news. I really appreciate BCCI’s decision. We had a meeting a month ago, where we requested the BCCI,” Mashal said on Monday.

Read: Afghanistan to make its Test debut against India, in India

Ever since attaining Test status in June this year, the Afghanistan players had shown interest in playing their first Test against India.

After the Test status grant, Mohammad Nabi had gone on record saying that it would be a great moment for Afghan cricketers if India played against them.

And Mashal too admitted that the decision is a big boost to their cricket. “We thank India, especially BCCI for the big opportunity given to Afghan team and Afghan cricket,” he said, adding: “We are working on the schedule and fixtures. Soon, we will have a joint press conference.”

The match is likely to be held early next year — possibly after India’s tour of South Africa. But nothing has been finalised yet. “It will be held next year. We cannot disclose the details at the moment, but it is confirmed that the inaugural Test will be played against India in India,” the ACB chief said.

In the past, the BCCI has extended a helping hand to Afghanistan on a number of occasions. The team from the war-ravaged nation has its home base in Greater Noida, where it has had international fixtures against Ireland.

In the Indian Premier League, Afghan players Rashid Khan and Mohammed Nabi played for Sunrisers Hyderabad last season.

The ACB will also name its new full-time coach this week. The position has been vacant since the departure of Lalchand Rajput. While Australian Dean Jones was roped in as a temporary coach, the board will take a final call in the next two days.

It is learnt that three applications have been shortlisted for the profile, of which Phil Simmons and Dean Jones are frontrunners. “We are in the process of interviewing candidates,” Mashal said.

Like Jones, Simmons too has worked with the Afghanistan team in the past as a consultant.

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