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Pakistan invite Afghanistan on first recognised cricket tour
Bilateral Ties

Pakistan invite Afghanistan on first recognised cricket tour

Pakistan have invited Afghanistan's cricket team on an official tour for the first time in a bid to reignite bilateral cricketing ties between the two nations.

This development follows Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's historic visit to Kabul last week. The premier's visit was mainly focused on promises of reduced violence in the neighbouring state and ensuring a ceasefire in time of conflict.

Khan also met an Afghanistan cricket delegation featuring the likes of Asghar Afghan and Mohammad Nabi during his stay in Kabul.

Khan's reputation as one of the world's leading cricketers in his playing days and the newfound easing of political tensions with Afghanistan has fuelled the narrative behind the invitation to the rising cricket force.

"We'll try to look for a possible window for this tour - and if not 2021, we'll definitely try to plan a series in 2022 season," said PCB chief executive Wasim Khan.

"A cricket series between Pakistan and Afghanistan could be a harbinger of love and peace between the two countries," he was quoted as saying by AFP.

The two teams have met in four ODIs and one T20I, all of which have been held at neutral venues. An Afghan national side toured Pakistan in their early days back in May 2011 but they only played against second-string local oppositions and the Pakistan A team.

While Afghanistan have recently acquired Test status, a majority of their international matches have been limited to opponents belonging to world cricket's second tier.

But Afghanistan have made rapid gains at the highest level, particularly in the shortest format, and defeated Pakistan in a pre-World Cup friendly last year in England.

The Leeds World Cup encounter that followed amongst the two was blighted by unfortunate instances of crowd violence as Pakistan narrowly prevailed in a last-over finish.

Relations between the two national cricket bodies hampered in the aftermath of the Kabul attack in June 2017 that led to Afghanistan cancelling their proposed T20I matches with Pakistan.

But Wasim is adamant that the PCB will continue to revive with ties with the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB).

"A strong Afghanistan means a strong Asian block... so Pakistan will continue to play its part and help Afghan cricket," he said.

Afghanistan are scheduled to host Pakistan for a three-match ODI series this year as part of the World Cup Super League. While Afghanistan's adopted cricketing home has been Dehradun in India, the series against Pakistan is likely to be played in the UAE.