Ireland's series against Afghanistan has been pulled forward so that it wouldn't clash with the IPL. Originally set to end on March 23 - which is the start date of the IPL - both boards have agreed to a slight change in schedule and now the tour, which includes three T20Is, five ODIs and the first Test between the two countries, will start on February 21 and end on March 19.
Three of Afghanistan's biggest match-winners are involved in the IPL - Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman. And the tournament was forced to start sooner this year so that there would be some breathing room for the players before the World Cup starts in May 2019. The Afghanistan Cricket Board - who are hosting the series in the North Indian city of Dehradun - made the request to draw the matches forward and Cricket Ireland agreed.
"Initially, we planned to conclude the series on 23rd March," ACB CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai said, "But keeping in mind the dates of the Indian Premier League, in which three of Afghanistan's main players will be participating, the dates were slightly adjusted and I would like to thank Cricket Ireland for honoring our request. The series will be important for Afghanistan as we are in the preparation stage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and we are certain that both sides will play competitive cricket."
Warren Deutrom, the CEO of Cricket Ireland, echoed similar views. "The importance of this series to both nations cannot be understated, so it was important that we could ensure the fans did not miss out on a clash that will see best v best in terms of players available. We hope this slight amendment to playing days does not impact too much on the travel bookings of any fans attending the series. We look forward to a great series - which will include Ireland's first overseas Test match."
Ireland's first and only foray in the longest format came at home, against Pakistan in May last year, while Afghanistan played their inaugural Test against India a month later in Bengaluru. For the forthcoming tour, the Irish side is scheduled to arrive in India on February 18. All matches will be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, where Afghanistan played hosts to Bangladesh for a three-match T20I series in June 2018.