What’s the story?
Afghanistan Cricket Board announced the schedule for the fifth edition of the Shpageeza Cricket League, Afghanistan’s franchise-based Twenty20 competition, that will begin on September 11. The tournament that will be held in Kabul will see six teams battling it out to be crowned champions.
The games will take place at the Kabul International Cricket Stadium with the defending champions Kabul Eagles taking on Boost Defenders in the opening game. Each of the six teams will play each other once and there will be 15 league games before the top four qualify for the playoffs, which will have two qualifiers and an eliminator before the final.
Here is the complete schedule:
September 11: Kabul Eagles v Boost Defenders; Amo Sharks v Speen Ghar Tigers
September 12: Band-e-Amir Dragons v Mis Ainak Knights; Boost Defenders v Speen Ghar Tigers
September 13: Amo Sharks v Kabul Eagles; Boost Defenders v Mis Ainak Knights
September 14: Band-e-Amir Dragons v Speen Ghar Tigers; Amo Sharks v Mis Ainak Knights
September 15: Band-e-Amir Dragons v Boost Defenders; Speen Ghar Tigers v Kabul Eagles
September 16: Kabul Eagles v Mis Ainak Knights; Boost Defenders v Amo Sharks
September 17: Mis Ainak Knights v Speen Ghar Tigers; Band-e-Amir Dragons v Amo Sharks
September 18: Kabul Eagles v Band-e-Amir Dragons
September 20: First Qualifier
September 20: Eliminator
September 21: Second Qualifier
September 22: Final
In case you didn’t know...
The fifth edition was supposed to be held between July 18-28 but a blast near the German Embassy in Kabul on May 31 led to the postponement of the tournament. The blast that killed 90 people and left over 400 injured also led to Afghanistan canceling two T20Is they were supposed to play against Pakistan.
The heart of the matter
As a direct result of the cancellation of that series, PCB issued a release stating that no Pakistan player will be issued an NOC (No Objection Certificate) to take part in the tournament and asked for an apology from the ACB.
While Bangladesh's Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes and Sabbir Rahman, West Indies' Ryad Emrit and Zimbabwe's Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza, Solomon Mire and Sean Williams are expected to feature in the tournament, there is still no clarity surrounding the participation of the Pakistan players who were bought in the auction.
With Pakistan set to host a T20I series against a World XI side, it will be interesting to see if any Pakistan players feature in the tournament. The likes of Umar Akmal, Sohail Tanvir, Kamran Akmal, Rumman Raees, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Rizwan were snapped up during the auction and it remains to be seen if they will feature in the tournament.
Despite the blasts, it is refreshing to see that cricket has once again come out on top and provided a sense of relief for the people of Afghanistan. While it will be interesting to see if the Pakistan players take part or not, the fact that the tournament will be played, is in itself, a huge boost for cricket in Afghanistan.Published 24 Aug 2017, 12:35 IST