Afghanistan news January 16, 2018

Afghanistan's Test debut set for June in Bengaluru

Rashid Khan leaps in the air to celebrate a five-wicket haul © Peter Della Penna

Afghanistan will play their inaugural Test between June 14 and 18 in Bengaluru against India. The announcement was made after officials from both the BCCI and the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) met in Delhi on Tuesday. Never before has a Test match been played in India in the month of June.

In December last year, the Indian board agreed to host Afghanistan's debut Test. The match will be played one year after Afghanistan were inducted as a Full Member by the ICC - along with Ireland - in June 2017.

Before the Test, Afghanistan will play a warm-up match, most likely a three-day game, the schedule for which will be announced later.

Despite being a country with a history of conflict, Afghanistan have taken impressive strides across all levels in world cricket. They qualified to play their first-ever ODI World Cup in 2015 and are likely to be a strong contender at the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers in March. Although the national players have training bases overseas - in Delhi and the UAE - the ACB, with help from the ICC, has initiated development programmes at the grass-roots level over the past decade.

According to Shafiqullah Stanikzai, the ACB chief executive officer, the BCCI has agreed to provide more exposure to Afghanistan players and also help out in the overall development of their cricket. "Our junior cricketers - from Under-17s to emerging sides to the A teams - will be having regular tours to India," Stanikzai said. "In addition, the BCCI has said it will provide technical support, and merge Afghanistan in their education programmes - coaching, umpiring, curators, performance analysts, speicialised coaching - and help us wherever it can."

The BCCI has also approved the ACB's request to have a second training base in India, in addition to the existing one in Greater Noida on the outskirts of Delhi. ACB officials are scheduled to carry out a recce of two more venues, both in northern India, before finalising their choice.

Afghanistan will be the fourth team to play their maiden Test against India, following Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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