Hailing the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI), Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) CEO –Shafiq Stanikzai, on Sunday, said that the BCCI has played a key role in the rapid rise of the game of cricket in the strife-torn country, saying Afghanistan have done particularly well since moving to India.
Although, the ACB CEO has not denied the initial support given by Pakistan, but said that India’s support is bigger than Pakistan as Afghanistan is performing extremely well since practicing in India as well as their junior cricket has also come up the ranks.
In the initial days, Afghanistan cricketers trained in Pakistan and some of them even trained in refugee camps on the other side of the border, but Stanikzai feels that their growth has been faster ever since they made Greater Noida in India their home ground in 2015.
According to a report in Press Trust of India, Shafiq Stanikzai told reporters, “BCCI's role has really been immense. Since we moved to India the team has done well. The conditions in India are suiting the team quite well. The support we receive from BCCI has been instrumental.”
On being asked how he would compare India's role to Pakistan in Afghanistan’s growth, Stanikzai said, “In Pakistan, we trained a lot in initial stages. Their (PCB) support was also tremendous. But since we moved to India, we have achieved big. We were associates and playing in a lower tier when practicing in Pakistan. Since we moved to India we are performing well. We have reached a stage where we are playing with the best."
He further added, “So, comparatively, it is bigger. Financially it is helping us quite a lot. It is cost effective in comparison to playing in UAE. Conditions wise too it is good. It is easy to convince other boards to come and play in India. So, from a different perspective, it is better to play in India.”
Afghanistan will now get their second home ground in India, most likely in Dehradun, as well as, they are in talks with the BCCI for facilitating junior tours. Stanikzai stated, “I have requested the BCCI and they have agreed to support us in junior cricket (U17, emerging and A teams). Integrate education as well with tours. In principle, we are in agreement. We need to work on the composition of the competition.”
The ACB CEO also said that IPL also played a key role in making the game popular in the country, as Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi became the first two players from the country to play in the IPL.
Stanikzai signed off by saying, “IPL played a huge role in getting the game popular back home. We don't have just one Rashid Khan, we have so many Rashid Khans in every part of the country.”