New Delhi: Come Thursday, cricketing history will be made when the Indian national side takes on Afghanistan’s newly put-together team in their first Test match after the latter gained Test playing nation status last year.
At hand to see the 14-18 June headline grabbing match in Bengaluru will be Afghanistan’s chief executive officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah and India’s minister of state for youth affairs and sports, Rajyavardhan Rathore.
The match between India and Afghanistan can be dismissed as a walkover for India — the world’s top team according to International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings vis a vis newcomers Afghanistan.
However, given the performances of Afghan players like Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi in the Indian Premier League the Afghan team is one that needs to be taken seriously, said three people familiar with the developments.
India has been grooming Afghan players and helping the war-torn country build a national cricket team since 2001 when Afghanistan first joined the ICC. That was also the year that US-led international troops ousted the Sunni hardline Taliban regime from Kabul. Afghan cricketers have been trained on facilities in Greater Noida in the National Capital Region.
India has helped in the construction of cricket stadia and grounds in Afghanistan, like in Kandahar, as part of its programme to help rebuild Afghanistan for which it has pledged $3.1 billion since 2001, said one of the three persons quoted above.