Bengal and Lahore Qalandars to take part in T20 series in Namibia

A fourth side, from South Africa, is expected to take part in the tournament, to be held in September

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
Shahbaz Ahmed will be among the big names in the Bengal side  •  BCCI

Shahbaz Ahmed will be among the big names in the Bengal side  •  BCCI

An Indian team is set to go up against a Pakistan team come September, away in Namibia. Around the time the Asia Cup takes place - most likely in the UAE - Cricket Namibia will host the four-team Global T20 Namibia series, with Bengal [from India], a representative Lahore Qalandars side [from Pakistan], and a South African domestic side.
Bengal have confirmed their participation, and Qalandars have agreed in principle, with a South African side likely to be named soon. ESPNcricinfo understands that some logistical niggles need ironing out before the final go-ahead.
On Friday, Bengal named a 16-man team for the tournament. Abhimanyu Easwaran will be at the helm, and a number of other regulars - Shahbaz Ahmed, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Writtick Chatterjee, among others - are included, with some fresh faces too.
The opportunity to play against a team that will be taking part in the 2022 T20 World Cup would be priceless for the Bengal players, Debabrata Das, Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretary, said.
"The broadcasters for the tournament came before our president [Avishek Dalmiya] and invited us. We took the opportunity to play six-seven games before the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy [India's domestic T20 tournament for men], because we can get to play against a World Cup team," Das told ESPNcricinfo. "The ambition is that there are several young players who are playing in local cricket in Bengal and performing fantastically with respect to T20s. So we are sending mostly those young guys so that we can make our team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
"The team we are sending abroad, this is a new team. We want to see how they play, how they tackle this tournament."
For Namibia, it will be a chance to finetune their preparations for the T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia in October-November. At the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, Namibia finished fifth in Group 2 after making it from the preliminary round to the Super 12 stage. Namibia will play an ODI tri-series in Papua New Guinea after this T20 tournament before leaving for Australia, where they are grouped with Sri Lanka, Netherlands and UAE in the first round.
There has been very little representative cricket between domestic sides from India and Pakistan in recent years.
The last occasion was in the 2014 Champions League T20, when Lahore Lions played against Kolkata Knight Riders, a game that featured Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz, Umar Akmal, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav.
Prior to that, between 2006 and 2008, the Nissar Trophy - a four-day first-class competition between the winners of the Ranji Trophy and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy - was played. But the competition was scrapped after three editions.
with inputs from Umar Farooq Kalson

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx