ZIMABWE – Afghanistan are riding a high wave after taming Zimbabwe in their own den in an ODI and T20 series recently.
With their confidence soaring, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai and his boys will be keen to perform an encore, and this time, at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
The two teams will battle it out in five One-Day Internationals and two T20s from December 25 onwards.
Waleed Bukhatir, Vice Chairman of Sharjah Cricket Club and Sharjah Cricket Council, said: “It’s a proud moment to have Afghanistan once again use Sharjah as the venue for their home matches. It’s another milestone for the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
“Ever since they got their ODI status in 2009, it was our chairman Abdul Rahman Bukhatir’s vision that Afghanistan should be using the Sharjah Cricket Stadium as a home venue to support and develop cricket for Afghanistan, and it has gone a long way.
“As of today, Afghanistan have played 10 ODIs in Sharjah and have won six of them and that’s a very good achievement which makes us feel proud.”
Waleed feels Afghanistan have got the experience now to take on the big teams in the international arena.
“In total, they have so far played 56 ODIs, so they have got good experience in the international arena.”
For head coach and former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, coming back to the Sharjah Cricket Stadium is like going down memory lane.
“Whenever I come to this ground, old memories are refreshed about this venue. My heart tells me to go and play the moment I come to this ground. It is a great venue. It has been like that for the past 25 years. The atmosphere at this venue is fantastic. I think, for this series, people will come and they will enjoy it,” said the coach who’s tenure has been extended till 2017 with the Afghanistan team.
Inzy, as he is popularly known in cricketing circles, said he owed a great deal to Abdul Rahman Bukhatir, for extending the facilities at the venue. “For the past 15 days, we have been practicing here and I must say the facilities are superb.”
Afghanistan cricket board’s chairman, Naseemullah Danish, was proud that they would be hosting Zimbabwe. “For the first time, Afghanistan will be hosting a full-member nation in Sharjah. I am grateful to Abdul Rahman Bukhatir and his family for giving us all the support and helping and nurturing Afghanistan cricket over the past five years. We wouldn’t have developed and progressed as a cricketing nation if not for the support of Bukhatir and the facilities he has extended by providing this ground and the facilities attached to it.”
Captain Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai was confident of his boys putting up a good show after their series win in Zimbabwe. “We have been working on some weak areas and hope to rectify it before the series.”