Kolkata, April 25 (IANS) The Afghanistan cricket team will not engage in Test matches against India in the new Future Tours Programme (FTP) for 2019-2023 but will take on top teams like England and Australia in the next four years, its Cricket Board CEO Shafiq Stanikzai said.
Their home venues will be in Greater Noida, Dehrahun and Sharjah.
Afghanistan and Ireland were approved as Full Members by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last year. Afghanistan will play their inaugural Test match in June against neighbours India in Bengaluru on June 14.
On the sidelines of the five-day ICC meeting here, Stanikzai said Afghanistan will most likely play as many as 14-18 Test matches in the new FTP cycle.
This was proposed at the ICC Chief Executives Meeting and will be ratified by the ICC board.
“We are playing 14-18 Tests in the new FTP cycle. We will be playing against England, Australia, the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Bangladesh,” Stanikzai told reporters.
Afghanistan are not part of the ICC World Test Championship and Stanikzai said all their Test engagements, thus, will be bilateral in nature and home and away.
Asked about playing against India after the one-off Test in Bengaluru, Stanikzai said Virat Kohli and his boys are “tough to get hold of” and the one-off Test is “good enough” for them.
“India is a tough team to get hold of because they are very busy. Since we are not in Test championship, the inaugural Test match is good enough for us.”
India skipper Virat Kohli will miss the test due to county stint with Surrey ahead of England tour. Stanikzai said Kohli’s absence will be a loss for Afghan players as he is a great of the game.
“To be honest as an administrator, we are happy to play our first Test and that too against India in India. Players like Virat are great names in the cricketing world. It will be something that our players would miss, the exposure playing with the likes of Virat. But still it’s a good opportunity.”
Afghanistan will play their home matches in Greater Noida, Dehradun and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
“We have three venues to choose from and we will be very selective in choosing our venues. We are thankful to India for the two venues in India, which is Greater Noida and Dehradun. Also we have Sharjah cricket ground. It depends on the timing, when we are playing and also on the conditions,” Stanikzai said.
Quizzed if they would be playing any day-night Test, Stanikzai said: “Not yet but there will be…we are deliberating.”
The Afghanistan board had applied to the ICC to have their status upgraded from Associates, and this was put to vote at the ICC Board meeting in London last year in June.
Afghanistan’s rise in recent years has been sharp having first gained ODI status in 2009 with a sixth-place finish at that year’s World Cup Qualifier in South Africa.A
It followed three consecutive promotions over the previous year when they began in Division Five of the World Cricket League.
Like Ireland, they have demonstrated the talent to stand toe-to-toe with Full Member nations, securing three straight ODI and T20I series wins over Zimbabwe as well as a win over eventual champion West Indies at the 2016 World T20.
More recently, Afghanistan beat IrelandA to qualify for next year’s World Cup in England.