Afghanistan news December 16, 2011

Afghanistan to play first ODI against Test nation

ESPNcricinfo staff

Afghanistan will play their first one-day international against a Test-playing nation when they meet Pakistan in Sharjah on February 10. The match will take place three days before the first match of the limited-overs leg of Pakistan's 'home' series against England in the UAE. Afghanistan played India and South Africa during the World Twenty20 2010, but in ODIs they have only faced Associate and Affiliate teams.

Pakistan and Afghanistan's cricketing relations have grown over 2011. In May, Afghanistan became the first international team to tour Pakistan since the attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in March 2009. They played three 50-over matches against Pakistan A. There was also an attempt to include Afghanistan in Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 tournament but that did not materialise.

Cricket was made popular in Afghanistan by refugees who spent years living in Pakistan when Soviet troops invaded their country in 1979. Afghanistan cricket has progressed remarkably in the last three years. In 2009, they finished fifth in the World Cup Qualifiers and earned ODI status later in the year. In 2010, they won the qualifying tournament for the World Twenty20, giving them the opportunity to play in the main tournament, and also won the Intercontinental Cup, a first-class tournament. They are currently ninth on the ICC rankings for Twenty20 teams.