Afghanistan to play their second Test in February 2019
What's the story?
The buzz from Afghanistan's historic maiden Test match has not settled yet although the game ended four days ago and yet there is fresh news that the Asian nation planning to play their second Test match against Ireland.
As it stands, Afghanistan will have to wait seven months before donning its Test whites again. Although the exact dates have not yet been finalized, there are tentative reports that the Asghar Stanikzai-led side will play Ireland in February next year.
In chats with the media and in an exclusive with Sportskeeda, Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Mr. Shafiq Stanikzai had expressed his desire for his board to invest more on Test Cricket, as it is the most difficult and challenging format of the game that the Afghans are yet to familiarise themselves with. He had often stressed on the financial and infrastructural capabilities, which he believed was key to the war-torn country's growth in the sport.
Interestingly, the proposed game could also be Ireland’s second Test match—after making its debut against Pakistan last month. However, there has been no final confirmation on Ireland’s next Test fixture either.
In case you didn't know...
A star-studded Indian line-up made short work of Afghanistan in their maiden Test at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, which concluded in less than two days.
India had a strong start courtesy of tons by Dhawan and Vijay, but the Afghans bounced back after tea to remove the majority of India's top and middle order. Early exploits from Hardik Pandya and a late blitz by Umesh Yadav propelled the score to 474 at lunch on day two when the team was bowled out. Rashid Khan returned with figures of 154/2.
In response, Afghanistan could only muster 109 in their first innings and 103 in their second, having been asked to follow-on. Ashwin and Jadeja took five wickets apiece as Indian bowlers easily picked up all 20 Afghan wickets between lunch and day-end, thereby finishing the match in record time, winning the game by an innings and 262 runs - India's largest innings win in Tests.
Afghanistan will travel to Ireland in August this year for a limited-overs series. They will be looking to replicate their recent successes in white-ball cricket, while Ireland will be looking to do better than their Test performance against Pakistan.
Meanwhile, ACB officials have assured that efforts will be taken to ensure more exposure for the players in the longer format of the game, and they are looking to do so by running Test-cricket related programmes right from the junior sides and also by scheduling tours for the 'A' side. The help extended by other cricketing boards like the BCCI could also pave way for the Afghan development. BCCI sources have already spoken of India playing practice matches against them in the future, however, it could be just the younger sides or the 'A' team.
Do you think this is the right move by Afghanistan? Have your say in the comments.