Avishka Gunawardene, the former Sri Lanka opening batter, has been appointed the Afghanistan men's team's batting coach for the forthcoming ODIs against Pakistan. The Afghanistan Cricket Board announced this on August 17 via Twitter. ESPNcricinfo understands the ACB had wanted Gunawardene for a longer stint, but Gunawardene has only confirmed his involvement in the ODI series - which is to be played in Sri Lanka - for now.
This will be Gunawardene's first major assignment since being cleared of corruption charges relating to alleged breaches of the Emirates Cricket Board's anti-corruption code during the T10 tournament in the UAE in 2017. An independent tribunal cleared Gunawardene in May, following an investigation, leaving him free to resume his coaching career. Gunawardene has served as the Sri Lanka national men's team's batting coach, and has also coached the Sri Lanka A and Emerging teams.
The appointment comes at a time of major upheaval in Afghanistan with the Taliban taking back the political reins following the withdrawal of US troops from the country. It remains to be seen how cricket is affected by these events, though ACB CEO Hamid Shinwari has been quoted saying he expects the sport to carry on as before.
"We will resume our office from tomorrow and the national camp which was underway ahead of the Pakistan series in Sri Lanka will also resume after a two-day break with the change in regime," Shinwari told PTI on Monday.
It is as yet unclear when the Afghanistan side can fly to Sri Lanka for the series (expected to be played sometime in September), as Kabul airport remains closed following the Taliban's takeover of the city. It is hoped the team can fly over the next two weeks.
All three ODIs against Pakistan will be played in Hambantota.