Afghanistan in talks to face World Twenty20 champions West Indies

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– in bilateral series in the UAE

The reigning world champions and the only side that defeated them at the World Twenty20 could be getting together for a rematch later this year, with the UAE as host.

The National understands that West Indies and Afghanistan are in the process of working out a bilateral engagement that could see them play a series of three Twenty20 internationals, most likely in Sharjah in December this year.

Afghanistan's players celebrate after winning the World T20 cricket tournament match against West Indies at The Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on March 27, 2016. Punit Paranjpe / AFP
Afghanistan’s players celebrate after winning the World T20 cricket tournament match against West Indies at The Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on March 27, 2016. Punit Paranjpe / AFP

The West Indies will be in the UAE around that period, having just finished a full series of Tests, ODIs and T20s against Pakistan before that. Afghanistan beat the eventual champions by six runs at the World Twenty20 in Nagpur, their first win over a Full Member other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

The engagement, several officials said, has not yet been finalised though more details are to emerge next week. The chances of an ODI game, though unlikely, have not been ruled out.

Though Afghanistan have a new “home” ground in Noida now, just outside Delhi in India, they will use their former home ground of Sharjah for the West Indies series because they believe the weather in Noida at that time of the year may affect the matches.

If the series does go ahead it would be the first bilateral series of more than one game that Afghanistan have played against any Test nation other than Zimbabwe. In the past, Afghanistan have played one-off T20s against Pakistan and Australia, all in the UAE.

They have played only three ODI and two T20 series against Zimbabwe since 2014, none of which they have lost. But a series of more than one game against the world champions would represent another major step up in Afghanistan’s aspirations.

That engagement is one of a number of irons in the fire – as one official put it – for Afghanistan at the moment, as they bid to build on another encouraging showing at a major world event.

They breezed through the first round at the World Twenty20 with three wins out of three. In the Super 10 group stages, before defeating the West Indies in Nagpur, they pushed South Africa and Sri Lanka hard, and gave England a major scare.

They were on the verge of agreeing to play a series of three ODIs with Pakistan and a four-day match against Pakistan “A” this month in Pakistan, but a terrorist attack in a park in Lahore last month put that prospect on hold.

Discussions to reschedule that continue, though it is unlikely anything will transpire before the Champions Trophy next summer: Pakistan’s schedule, from the time their home season starts this year to June 2017, is packed. It could be, however, that they fit in that four-day game involving Pakistan “A” before then.

Afghanistan are also believed to be in discussions with New Zealand for a bilateral series.

One series they are definitely playing this year is against Ireland, whom they tour in July for a five-match ODI series. That will be the hosts’ first bilateral series of that length. Ireland then reciprocate that visit by travelling to Noida next April for another five-match series.

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