Brand new stadium to be built in Kabul to attract international cricket

In this photo taken on November 16, 2019, Afghanistan's cricketers celebrate after the dismissal of West Indies' Shimron Hetmyer during the second T20 international cricket match of a three-match series between Afghanistan and West Indies at Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. (Photo by Rohit UMRAO / AFP) / ----IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE-----

Afghanistan’s cricket starved fans will have extra reasons to cheer with the national board’s recent announcement on Twitter. In their quest to bring international games to the country, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) declared that they have managed to secure land in Kabul, for the construction of a sleek new stadium.

The building of the stadium has been made possible by the allocation of land by President Mohammed Asraf Ghani. In total, 120,000 square metres of land has been set aside in the Alokhail area of Kabul to construct it.

As per reports, the stadium will meet international standards and will include a five-star guest house, a standard swimming pool, indoor and outdoor academies, canopies for crowd, a health clinic, a mosque, car parking, an administrative block and other supporting facilities.

According to ACB, the stadium will have seating capacity for 35,000 spectators, including designated areas for families.

In a statement to media, ACB Chairman Farhan Yosefzai thanked Afghanistan’s president and expressed hope that this new stadium will be able to attract some much needed international cricket fixtures to the country.

‘I express my special thanks to Mr. President who has always supported the development of cricket and encouraged our players. After initial formalities, the construction of the stadium will also commence and we will ensure it is done with best quality’, said Yosefzai.

Afghanistan’s other stadiums

It must be noted that Afghanistan don’t actually lack for cricket facilities at home. The national board already has a handful of cricket stadiums at its disposal in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Khost; but unfortunately have been prevented from hosting international games due to the persistent threat of terrorism.

It has consigned the Afghan national team to a nomadic life since 2010. For the first six years, Afghanistan played its home games in Sharjah. They moved again a couple of times, all within India; firstly to Greater Noida (2017) and then to Dehradun (2018-19). Since last year, the Afghan team have adopted the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow as their new home.

One hopes that the building of the new stadium with world-class facilities provides the nation with a permanent home base to play their cricket in, security situation in the country notwithstanding.

Rashid Khan wins ICC Men’s T20I Player of the Decade award
Rashid Khan (Illustration: ICC)

In other great news for Afghanistan, leg-spinning sensation Rashid Khan has bagged the ICC Men’s T2OI Player of the Decade award. Although, Rashid only made his debut halfway through the decade in 2015, his impressive bowling record since then had him prevail over the likes of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Lasith Malinga.

Men’s T20I Player of the Decade award nominees:

•    Aaron Finch (Australia)
•    Chris Gayle (West Indies)
•    Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
•    Virat Kohli (India)
•    Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
•    Rohit Sharma (India)
•    Imran Tahir (South Africa)

Rashid’s 89 wickets in 48 T20Is at an economy rate of 6.14 and a mind boggling bowling average of 12.62 (*stats from January 1, 2011 to October 7, 2020) have seen him become hot property for various T20 leagues around the world such as the IPL, CPL and BBL. Still very young at 22 years old, the prolific spinner will no doubt continue to make waves over the next decade.

Speaking from Australia where he is currently plying his trade for Adelaide Strikers, Rashid expressed his elation at winning this coveted award.

‘I’m speechless for this award. And I am so happy for all the fans and everyone else that have supported me. As someone from Afghanistan to get this award, it’s a special moment for me and for my whole country and my fans.’

Due to COVID-19, the ICC Awards were held virtually and was jointly presented by Alan Wilkins alongside Lisa Sthalekar, Sharda Ugra, Shaun Pollock and Emerging Cricket founder Tim Cutler. The Full Awards presentation can be seen here.

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