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Afghanistan-Pakistan ODI series postponed indefinitely

Logistical challenges to travel and situation around Afghanistan primary reasons behind the decision

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
It was supposed to be a "home" series for Afghanistan and was originally scheduled to be played in the UAE  •  Getty Images

It was supposed to be a "home" series for Afghanistan and was originally scheduled to be played in the UAE  •  Getty Images

Afghanistan's three-match ODI series against Pakistan has been postponed indefinitely after talks between the two boards concluded that logistical challenges were making it tough for the Afghanistan contingent to travel to Sri Lanka and the situation in Afghanistan would not have left their players in a good mental space. The PCB also tweeted that both boards will try to reschedule the series in 2022.*
Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO Hamid Shinwari confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that they tried to move the series to Pakistan, but eventually decided to postpone the series considering the situation around Afghanistan.
No commercial flights are taking off from Kabul following the Taliban takeover of the country, and Sri Lanka announced a 10-day lockdown on Friday, two days after the country reported 3793 new Covid-19 cases and a highest-ever single-day death toll of 187. The Afghanistan contingent was supposed to travel to Pakistan by road, then fly to Dubai, and then on to Colombo for the series, but the circuitous route is throwing up logistical challenges because of the Covid-19 protocols.
"Until this evening we had principally agreed to play the series in Pakistan and we are thankful to Pakistan for all the support they offered," Shinwari said. "But then considering all the situations, especially our players' mental readiness, we found that that they are not prepared. We needed a camp and we needed time for them to acclimatise to the weather and conditions.
"But with all the delay in making efforts to play in Sri Lanka, we have lost enough time and now making a trip to Pakistan without preparation in such a short time isn't working for our players. Pakistan is a good team and playing them at home you need to be fully prepared which, unfortunately, we are not so we have decided to postpone it indefinitely."
It was supposed to be a "home" series for Afghanistan and was originally scheduled to be played in the UAE. ESPNcricinfo had learnt that the PCB had offered to host the series in one venue in Pakistan when the UAE plan fell through, but the ACB had declined then.
Afghanistan's 17-member squad for the tour had assembled in Kabul last week to train amid the Taliban's takeover of the country. Pakistan have, however, delayed the announcement of their squad - which was originally set to happen on August 21 - because of lack of clarity around the tour. In the meantime, a pre-season camp of Pakistan's 26 white-ball players started at Lahore's High Performance Centre on Sunday under the supervision of Saqlain Mushtaq.
It was only known that Pakistan's four premier all-format players - Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali - were expected to be rested for the series to manage their workload ahead of the T20 World Cup.
*1845GMT: The story was updated after the two boards postponed the series

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent