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Afghanistan will play their home games in the UAE over the next five years. An agreement was signed between the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), firming up the deal. As part of the agreement, Afghanistan will play UAE in a three-match T20I series in each of the five years.
The ECB will "provide valuable logistic support to the Afghanistan Cricket Board, including visa assistance and office space", an ACB statement said.
Of late the Afghanistan team has already been playing and training in the UAE, but on a series-by-series basis. Now, there's a formal longer-term deal in place.
Given the political situation in Afghanistan, it has remained a no-go zone for international teams. The situation escalated with the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Several ACB staff were among those who fled the country in the immediate aftermath, and thereafter getting visas for players based in Afghanistan to play abroad became a bigger challenge. The board subsequently arranged UAE residency visas for about two dozen players.
As per the ICC's Future Tours Programme (FTP), Afghanistan are set to host Australia, Pakistan and West Indies in three ODIs each, as well as Zimbabwe across formats, in the next year leading into the 2023 ODI World Cup. In the UAE, these can be spread across venues in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Mubashir Usmani, the ECB secretary said of the development: "Both parties, the Emirates Cricket Board and the Afghanistan Cricket Board enjoy long and cordial relations and we are happy to support the ACB in ensuring that they have a home for their cricket.
"We are also thankful to the Afghanistan Cricket Board for agreeing to play a series of T20I matches against UAE Team each year. This will provide our UAE team with invaluable exposure and help in their development."