Associate members like Afghanistan have been taking huge strides ever since their introduction to the first-class cricket. And now the cricket enthusiasts of the war-trodden nation have double reasons for celebration as the newly built Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow is set to be the new home ground of Afghanistan cricket team.
The administrators of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) will make an official announcement of the same in a joint press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Following consistent performances at the Associate level, Afghanistan along with Ireland received the Test status from the International Cricket Council (ICC) last year. However, due to security issues in the war-ravaged nation, the ACB is unable to host international hames on their home turf.
In 2016, they approached BCCI for help and BCCI assisted by providing them the Greater Noida Sports Complex ground on the outskirts of Delhi. Afghanistan has hosted Ireland over there in Inter-Continental (multi-day) as well as limited-overs (ODI and T20Is) matches.
However, there have a been a lot of accusations regarding the facilities as well as the pitches at that venue. Thus, after getting the Test status, ACB did not want to take any chance. They raised some concerns to BCCI and is now all set to get the permission to host their ‘home’ games at the brand new stadium Ekana International Cricket Stadium. A flagship project of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA), the stadium has already acquired international status from ICC, recently.
The Afghans are currently preparing for the all-important ICC World Cup Qualifiers, which will be hosted by Zimbabwe in March. Two top teams out of that 10-team event will feature in a curtailed down ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England.
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On the other hand, their U-19 team, which is the currently playing in the Junior World Cup in New Zealand has been showing immense potential. The Afghan players have displayed some exhilarating performances and now have qualified as table toppers for the quarterfinals of the mega event.
It’s needless to say that cricket in the war-trodden country is on the rise, and it is only before so long that they evolve into a formidable team to beat.