Afghanistan, Zimbabwe to play limited-overs series in February 2018

Mohammad Shahzad and Gulbadin Naib celebrate after Afghanistan qualified to the main draw AFP

Zimbabwe and Afghanistan have agreed to play five ODIs and two T20Is against each other in Sharjah in February 2018. The tour begins with back to back 20-over games on February 5 and 6 before moving onto the 50-over leg scheduled to take place between February 9 to 19.

Afghanistan were in talks to play their maiden Test against Zimbabwe around the same time as well. The original plan was for both teams to compete against each other across all three formats in Sharjah before Zimbabwe would travel Bangladesh for an ODI tri-series in January-February. But with the World Cup qualifiers due in March, Zimbabwe Cricket suggested to the Afghanistan Cricket Board that it might be better for the players to concentrate on limited-overs cricket.

"We are still discussing the proposed Test and looking at playing it after the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier," a ZC official said. With Zimbabwe suffering a cash crunch, they may also prefer to play their Test matches away from home.

Afghanistan have also announced a three match ODI series against Ireland to take place in Sharjah on December 5, 7 and 10.

The ACB chairman Atif Mashal appeared happy that the team was getting good exposure at a time they will need it. "The two T20Is and five-match ODI series at Sharjah Cricket Stadium will give both sides [Afghanistan and Zimbabwe] a valuable opportunity to face each other for competitive cricket ahead of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in March."

The tournament features 10 teams, including West Indies and Ireland, but only the top two will get to go to England for the 2019 World Cup.