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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Afghanistan's Twenty20 league set for launch in the UAE in October

Afghanistan Premier League scheduled for October 5-23 as part of busy winter schedule in the UAE

Afghanistan's Rashid Khan will be one of the players who is likely to headline the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League in October in the UAE. ICC
Afghanistan's Rashid Khan will be one of the players who is likely to headline the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League in October in the UAE. ICC

The Afghan Cricket Board continue to forge ahead with plans for their own showpiece Twenty20 competition, to be staged in the UAE in October.

On Tuesday, the respective cricket boards of the UAE and Pakistan jointly announced they were working through issues brought about by a packed 2018-19 calendar.

Less than a day later the ACB released a statement of their own confirming the Emirates Cricket Board have endorsed the staging of their new franchise league, the Afghanistan Premier League , scheduled to run from October 5 to 23.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, who have been long-term tenants of the UAE, have become increasingly alarmed by the number of new high-profile enterprises flooding the cricket landscape of the Emirates.

Their concerns centred around the perceived threat to their own premier events, such as bilateral series involving the national team, as well as the Pakistan Super League.

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They had considered the option of taking the PSL, as well as series against Australia and New Zealand, elsewhere.

However, the PCB and the host board said this week they had held “fruitful discussions on matters of mutual interest”.

Chief among the results was an “in principal” agreement for staging costs to be significantly reduced for PCB, as well as an agreement not to stage other matches when Pakistan’s major events are taking place.

The ECB will roll out their own T20 competition for the first time next winter, as well as hosting the expanded second season of the T10 League. They have made a point of stating neither will clash with PCB interests.

“The ECB will host a T20 and T10 League from December 10, 2018, to January 10, 2019 when there are no PCB fixtures in the UAE,” the ECB wrote.

“The ECB will not host any league during the time when the PCB/PSL T20/ODI fixtures are being played in the UAE.”

The status of the new Afghan league was not specifically addressed in the statement. The ACB have signed a contract to use UAE stadia, and made an advance payment.

In the past, Pakistan have generally played their “home” Test programme in the UAE in the months of September, October and November.

For example, their whole home Test season last year – which amounted to a two-Test series against Sri Lanka – was over before the middle of October.

The dates of the APL either mean an overlap with Test matches involving Pakistan, or could squeeze that programme into a 46-day window between the APL final on October 23 and the start of the T10 League on December 10. Two Tests are planned against Australia and three against New Zealand.

“In a letter to the ICC, the ECB has confirmed that it has approved and supports the staging of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) in UAE in the month of October 2018,” the ACB statement said.

The next step involves the sanctioning of the league by ICC.

“APL is Afghanistan Cricket Board’s commercial T20 league, which was launched by ACB in January this year. The inaugural edition of the league, which will consist of five franchises, is scheduled to be held from Oct 5-23 in UAE and will include both Afghan and foreign players.”

Before the start of the surfeit of limited-overs leagues, the UAE season will start with the Asia Cup, to be played in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, in September.