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‘Let’s play cricket with each other’: Taliban wants to host Pakistan’s cricket team for bilateral ODI series in Afghanistan

Interestingly, the newly-appointed chairman of Afghanistan cricket also wants to visit India and other countries in the region to meet official cricket boards. While talking AFP, he said, "I am taking a tour of Pakistan from September 25 and then will go to India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates to meet officials of cricket boards."

On September 22, Azizullah Fazli, Afghanistan cricket chairman, said he would visit Pakistan to invite them for the One Day International cricket series on September 25.

Amidst the ongoing war in the country, the cricket team of Afghanistan somehow managed to rise in international cricket. There are some good players in the team, including the world’s top spinner Rashid Khan. However, since the Taliban took over the country, there had been calls to boycott the men’s team.

As the Taliban now controls Afghanistan, they ruled to abolish the women’s team. This is where comes the catch. As per the regulations under International Cricket Council (ICC), nations who want to participate in international Test matches must have an active women’s team. Something that is farfetched in the country ruled by Talibs. Though no policy has been announced by the Taliban on allowing women to play sports, a senior official has already declared it as “unnecessary”.

Interestingly, the newly-appointed chairman of Afghanistan cricket also wants to visit India and other countries in the region to meet official cricket boards. While talking AFP, he said, “I am taking a tour of Pakistan from September 25 and then will go to India, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates to meet officials of cricket boards.”

Afghanistan cricket team was due to play in Sri Lanka against Pakistan in September, but that could not happen. Fazli said that he would meet Ramiz Raja, chairman of, Pakistan Cricket Board, and “offer to host Pakistan for the series which we were due to play in Sri Lanka in September”. The three-match one-day series between Afghanistan and Pakistan was cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak and logistical issues in Sri Lanka. Fauzi further added, “We are seeking to improve Afghanistan cricket so that will come with cooperation from other countries.”

Reportedly, Raja has confirmed that Fazli will be in Pakistan on September 25. Fazli has served as chairman of the board once before between September 2018 and July 2019. Notably, Afghanistan is part of the Twenty20 World Cup that is scheduled to start on October 17 in the United Arab Emirates. Afghan team is in Group 2 of the Super 12 stages.

Recently, Australia took a stern stand against the Taliban’s decision to not allow women to play cricket. Australia has threatened to cancel a Test match that was scheduled to be played against Afghanistan in Brisbane in November.

Notably, the Taliban also replaced the Chief Executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board. Hamid Shinwari was sacked by Talibs, and Naseeb Zadran Khan took his place. Khan is said to be linked to the Haqqani network that is responsible for some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan.

The security threats in Pakistan for cricket teams

Recently, two countries stepped back from playing cricket in Pakistan over security concerns. On September 17, New Zealand’s B-team that was in Pakistan announced that they would be heading back to their homeland and cancelled the series with Pakistan Cricket Team. The reason that they gave for the sudden decision was a bomb threat. Later, on September 20, the England team also cancelled their tour to Pakistan over security concerns. Both incidents resulted in a meltdown from Pakistan authorities, cricketers and fans.

Netizens speculate Afghanistan’s stand over security threats

As soon as reports of Falzi visiting Pakistan to initiate talks to have cricket matches between the two countries, jokes and memes flooded the Indian social media space. Cricket fans were amused over the thought of war-torn countries trying to picture themselves as ‘patrons of peace’ who want to play cricket with other countries in the region, including India.

Davinder Singh Rawat said, “Both the countries not visiting each other citing security reasons. No other country also visiting them because of the same reason.”

Ravi posted a photograph of Talibs laughing and said, “Rest of the world”.

Arnab Bakshi said, “#TerroristPakistan vs #TerroristTaliban. Whoever loses the match..boom.”

Twitter user YearOfRat said, “Taliban has invited Pakistan to play in Afghanistan, and not offered to play in Pakistan themselves, because even they know the security risks in Pakistan. Taliban: Pakistan khelne jaayen kya? Osama: Pagal hai kya!”

Satire portal The Fauxy published a post in which it was said that “Afghanistan Cricket Team Cancels Its Pakistan Tour Over Security Concerns”, which further ignited the laughter riot.

The screenshots of the satire report were shared as real across Twitter, with people making fun of both countries.

Recently, the Taliban had banned the broadcast of the Indian Premier League in Afghanistan because of the “presence of female spectators and cheerleaders in IPL matches”. Cheerleaders and women watching the matches in the stadium with their hair visible were ruled as ‘anti-Islamic content’ by the Taliban.

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