Afghanistan to face West Indies and Ireland in 2017
As part of their continuing efforts to become a leading cricket playing country, Afghanistan will face Ireland in nine matches across matches in their adopted home of Greater Noida in India in the month of March 2017 before locking horns with West Indies in their own backyard in the month of July for a tour consisting of 5 ODIs and 3 T20Is.
Afghanistan, then coached by Pakistan legend Inzamam-ul-Haq had produced one of the biggest upsets at the 2016 World T20 held in India when they defeated West Indies during the league stages of the competition. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) have made no qualms of their ambitions of being a household name in the sport and believes a series against the reigning World T20 champions will give them a major boost.
“This is a major series with very attractive teams featuring some of the world’s best players. We look forward to some very entertaining cricket in T20 and ODI. On behalf of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, I am very thankful to West Indies Cricket Board for agreeing to be hosts for the series,” Shafiq Stanikazi, the ACB Chief Executive Officer said.
“Playing with the Twenty20 champions will boost our technical prospects for us,” Nasimullah Danish, Chairman of the ACB added.
Welcoming the Afghanistan team to the Carribean, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) CEO, Michael Muirhead, said that it was always a fresh experience to compete with new teams.
“This series will add to the variety of cricket our teams will be playing for the next year and we are happy to be able to have teams visit the region to add exposure for all our players,” he said.
The Afghanistan team though will be first playing hosts to Ireland in their adopted home in India for a series consisting of five ODIs, three Twenty20s and a four-day ICC Intercontinental Cup fixture, which will be played from March 8 to 31.
The two teams faced each other recently in an ODI series which finished level at 2-2 and will be aiming to push their case for more competitive matches, collectively.
"This tour is exactly what we have been pushing for in recent times, where the national team plays across all three formats over a four-five week period, just like the Full Members have been doing for years," Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland's performance director, said.
"Both sides are aspiring to become Test countries and to organise bilateral tours on a regular basis in series with context, rather than focusing mainly on tournament cricket. These matches will not only be part of the pathway to Test cricket for both countries but also part of the World Cup qualification pathway," he added.
John Bracewell, the head coach of the Ireland side, also welcomed the series as he feels playing in India will help his side get a good feel of pitches in the subcontinent.
"This will be a great opportunity for our squad to test themselves," Bracewell told RTÉ Sport. "It's always good for a team's development to test themselves in different conditions, and there's no better place than India to do that. I'm sure the younger players will benefit from playing in subcontinent conditions."