Karachi: Pakistan and Afghanistan will play their first ever one-day international (ODI) match in Sharjah next February, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Friday. It will be Afghanistan's first ODI against a top international team, taking place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on February 10, shortly before Pakistan begins a one-day series against England, the PCB said.
Cricket was made popular in Afghanistan by refugees who spent years living in Pakistan when Soviet troops invaded their country in 1979. Since then, Afghanistan have made lightning progress in the sport, finishing fifth in the World Cup qualifiers in 2009 and earning one-day status the same year.
The run of positive results has continued, as they won the World Twenty20 qualifiers, which allowed them to play top teams in the WorldTwenty20 in the West Indies last year. Afghanistan are now placed ninth in the International Cricket Council Twenty20 rankings.
They toured Pakistan in May for three unofficial one-dayers against a second-tier team on the first visit of an international side since gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team in March 2009, suspending international cricket in Pakistan. They have previously played 18 one-dayers against associate and affiliate teams such as Canada, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands and Scotland.
The PCB also announced the venues and dates of England's two side games ahead of the three-Test series against Pakistan. Pakistan and England also play four one-day and three Twenty20s in the UAE.
"From January 7-9, England will play an ICC combined associate and affiliate members XI while from 11-13 January, a PCB XI will take on England in both the matches in Dubai," the PCB said. "England will also play a warm-up one-day game against the England Lions on February 10 in Abu Dhabi."
The three-Test series between Pakistan and England starts in Dubai on January 17.