Ahmed Shah Pakteen becomes first on-field Test umpire from Afghanistan

Big day for Ahmed Shah Durrani too, as he becomes second Afghan, after Pakteen, to be a TV umpire in a Test match

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
Umpire Ahmed Shah Pakteen (right) was on Test debut, Afghanistan vs Zimbabwe, 1st Test, Abu Dhabi, 1st day, March 2, 2021

Ahmed Shah Pakteen (R) became the first on-field Test umpire from Afghanistan  •  Afghanistan Cricket Board

The first Test between Afghanistan and Zimbabwe had four players making their Test debuts. There was another Test first-timer on the field, too, 44-year old Ahmed Shah Pakteen, who became the first from Afghanistan to be an on-field umpire in a Test match. Aleem Dar, the veteran official from Pakistan, was the other on-field umpire for the game.
Pakteen made his debut as an international cricket umpire in January 2017. He has previously stood in 15 ODIs and 20 T20Is. In March 2019, Pakteen had become the first Afghan to be a TV umpire during the only Test between Afghanistan and Ireland. Ten months later, in January 2020, he became the first Afghan umpire at an ICC main event when he officiated at the Men's Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.
While there is no Afghan representation in the 12-member elite panel of umpires (the highest category), there are four in the international panel: apart from Pakteen, there are Ahmed Shah Durrani, Bismillah Jan Shinwari and Izatullah Safi.
The ongoing Test also marked a debut in Tests for Durrani, who became the second Afghan - after Pakteen - to be a TV umpire in the longest format. Durrani made his international umpiring debut in December 2016 and has been an on-field umpire 19 times in white-ball cricket.
Pakteen's debut now means that Ireland is the only full-member nation to not field an on-field umpire yet. Ireland have played three Tests so far, and the only official from their country has been Mark Hawthorne, who was the TV umpire in their debut Test, against Pakistan in 2018 .

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo