Zimbabwe set to host Afghanistan next month
Zimbabwe is set to host Afghanistan for a limited-overs tour starting late next month, ESPNcricinfo has learnt. This will be the first time Afghanistan are hosted by a Full Member board for an international series. The series, which is likely to include several Twenty20s and one ODI, is set to start from January 28.
Amid financial crisis in Zimbabwe cricket, a planned visit by Sri Lanka in October 2013 was postponed on ZC's request because of a lack of funds. However Afghanistan while touring Zimbabwe will bear their logistic expenses of their own.
This year Bangladesh, India and Pakistan all visited Zimbabwe between April and September. The series against Bangladesh and Pakistan consisted of two Tests, three ODIs and two T20s each and corporates associated with the two visiting countries, such as Cool & Cool from UAE and Haier from Pakistan were signed on as sponsors. The India series consisted of just five ODIs but provided ZC with a much-needed cash injection.
Afghanistan have qualified both for next year's World Twenty20 as well as the 2015 World Cup and in return received a massive financial boost from the ICC. They will receive $1 million from the ICC as preparation fee for the 2015 World Cup, in addition to the $422,000 awarded in April as part of the ICC's Targeted Assistance and Performance Programme. Next year, the top Associate and Affiliate Members - including Afghanistan - will also receive approximately $750,000 through the ICC Development Funding Policy.
Pakistan hosted Afghanistan in 2011 but fielded an A team against the visitors. Afghanistan played their first ODI against a Full Member country last year in February when they took on Pakistan in Sharjah.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent