Cricketing history will be made on Friday when Afghanistan travel to Sharjah to face Pakistan – their first ever one-day international against a Test-playing nation.
In a one-off encounter, three days before the start of Pakistan’s ‘home’ one-day series against England in the UAE, Afghanistan will attempt to achieve one of the sport’s greatest ever upsets against their neighbours.
Despite earning One Day International status in 2009 they have only ever faced Associate and Affiliate teams in 50-over contests before, though they do possess some pedigree in the Twenty20 arena.
They are currently ranked ninth in the ICC rankings for the shortest version of the game, and during the World Twenty20 competition in 2010 they played both India and South Africa.
Friday’s historic fixture is another example of increasingly harmonious cricketing relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Afghan team became the first to tour Pakistan since the attack on Sri Lanka’s team coach in March 2009 when they played a trio of 50-over matches against Pakistan A in May this year.
In addition, plans were made for Afghanistan to join Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 tournament, though this never came to fruition.
The cricketing ties between the two nations have drawn praise from the ICC.
Tim Anderson, ICC Global Development Manager, recently spoke of his admiration for the link and stressed how the organisation were striving to develop the cricketing culture in countries where it was seen as a minority sport.
He stated how nations such as Scotland, UAE, Nepal and even Papa New Guinea were places with huge potential for future growth.
The case of Afghanistan, a burgeoning cricket nation about to take their mightiest step forward on Friday, proves how cricket is a sport that has the ability to flourish if the grassroots are in place.