Afghanistan’s three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed, the Pakistan Cricket Board said on Monday.
The series was scheduled to be played in Sri Lanka in early September, but the PCB said the Afghanistan Cricket Board requested the postponement following the collapse of the country’s government and the takeover by the Taliban.
The PCB cited both the difficulties in travelling from Afghanistan, an increase in COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka and the “players’ mental health issues” as reasons for the postponement.
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The Afghanistan cricket team had planned to travel to Pakistan by road and then fly out to Sri Lanka via Dubai. The PCB added that the two cricket boards will try to reschedule the series for 2022.
Last Friday, Sri Lanka announced a 10-day lockdown due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.
PCB has accepted ACB's request to postpone next month’s ODI series due to players’ mental health issues, disruption in flight operations in Kabul, lack of broadcast facilities and increased Covid-19 cases in Sri Lanka. Both boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 23, 2021
The Taliban have said they would not interfere with men’s cricket as they see it to be Afghanistan’s biggest sporting success of recent years. The rise of the Taliban has ensued fear in Afghanistan, bringing back reminders of their brutality. From 1996 to 2001 they imposed strict laws and banned entertainment and sports-stadium had become execution venues.
Former national captain of the Afghan cricket team, Mohammad Nabi tweeted days before the fall of Kabul that “I appeal to the leaders of the world; please don’t let Afghanistan go into chaos…We need your support. We want peace.”
Naveen ul Haq shared with BBC that for a moment he would try to focus on the match, but images from home kept haunting him. “I can’t say that I will be fully focused on playing only cricket because you can’t when you see your country like that.”