The Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which has hosted the most number of ODIs, has been named Afghanistan's "home ground" for ODI and first-class cricket. The grant was made by a prominent patron of cricket in the UAE, Abdulrahman Bukhatir.
"Bearing in mind the difficulties they have in Afghanistan, the cricketers deserve to have a place somewhere where they can come and feel that they are at home, " Bukhatir was quoted as saying in an Asian Cricket Council (ACC) media release. "Here they have good local support and they can make use of all the practice facilities in Sharjah Stadium, the gymnasium and nets as well as the grounds at Al Dhaid Cricket Village."
Afghanistan are currently playing Canada in Sharjah. They recently qualified for this year's ICC World Twenty20, beating Ireland by eight wickets in the final of the World Twenty20 Qualifier in Dubai, where they were well supported. They received ODI status last year, but fell short of qualifying for the 2011 World Cup.
"Afghanistan is not only the team doing the best at present in the developing world of cricket, they are also the team with the most potential," ACC chief Syed Ashfaqul Haq said. "Being able to practise and play with frequency at Sharjah, to be able to invite other teams to their new 'home ground' can only help them improve as cricketers."
UAE Cricket Board administrator Mazhar Khan said: "7000 Afghan fans is what we have come to expect at every big match featuring Afghanistan in the UAE and giving Afghanistan use of Sharjah and Al Dhaid is not only a feather in the cap for cricket here but a revitalisation of cricket in the country. Sharjah Cricket Stadium, having marked its 200th ODI this week, is on course to keep on adding to this mark."