India Helps Us More Than Pakistan, Says Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO

Last Update on: January 22nd, 2018 at 01:20 pm

Shafiq Stanikzai, the Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO, has acknowledged BCCI’s role in the war-ravaged nation’s rapid rise in international cricket. At the same time, he also admitted that Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan’s meteoric rise is big.

Afghanistan cricketers trained in Pakistan in their formative years and some of them even picked up the sport in refugee camps on the other side of the border.

However, Stanikzai insisted that Afghanistan’s fortunes changed when the BCCI allowed them to use Greater Noida Sports Complex as their home ground in 2015. The side has come a long way since then, regularly playing in ICC world events and their improvement was recognised by the ICC last year when they were awarded Test status along with Ireland.

“BCCI’s role has really been immense. Since we moved to India the team has done well. The conditions in India are suiting the team quite well. the support we receive from BCCI has bee instrumental,” Stanikzai told PTI.

India Helps Us More Than Pakistan, Says Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO
Afghanistan had hosted Ireland in Greater Noida last year (Credits: AP)

“But since we moved to India, we have achieved big. We were associates and playing in a lower tier when practising in Pakistan. Since we moved to India we are performing well. We have reached a stage where we are playing with the best.”

“So, comparatively, it is bigger. Financially it is helping us quite a lot. It is cost effective in comparison to playing in UAE. Conditions wise too it is good. It is easy to convince other boards to come and play in India. So, from different perspective, it is better to play in India,” he added.

The BCCI has never shied away from backing Afghanistan. Two years ago, Afghanistan got its first home ground in India when the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the BCCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority in 2015 to use the Shahid Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex.

In March 2017, Ireland had toured India to play five One Day Internationals (ODIs), three Twenty20 International (T20Is) and an ICC Intercontinental Cup match against Afghanistan. All the matches were played at the Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground. Before that, Afghanistan Under-19 team had used the ground as their home ground to prepare for the Under-19 World Cup.

The BCCI has now agreed to provide Afghanistan with another home ground with Dehradun reportedly being the venue. Not only that, but the BCCI has also agreed to host the country for their first-ever Test which will be held in Bengaluru from June 14 to 18.

Stanikzai further said that both the cricket boards have agreed on a deal which will help Afghanistan’s junior cricketers.

“I have requested the BCCI and they have agreed to support us in junior cricket (U17, emerging and A teams). Integrate education as well with tours. In principle, we are in agreement. We need to work on the composition of the competition,” he said.

The CEO went on to say that the Indian Premier League has helped the game to become more popular in the nation. Last year, Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi became the first two players from Afghanistan to be bought at an IPL auction.

“IPL played a huge role in getting the game popular back home. We don’t have just one Rashid Khan, we have so many Rashid Khans in every part of the country,” he noted.

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