Afghanistan cricket is all set to witness history in October with the introduction of country’s new Twenty20 tournament – the Afghanistan Premier League (APL T20). The IPL-like competition will be played at the historic Sharjah cricket stadium.
As per a report in Khaleej Times, Afghanistan Cricket Board unveiled the logo of the tournament in a glittering ceremony in Dubai on Monday (August 27). Five teams – Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia, and Balkh – will participate in the inaugural edition of the league.
The tournament means business considering that it has attracted big names like Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Brendon McCullum, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kumar Sangakkara, Tamim Iqbal and Rashid Khan.
Players will be picked through a draft system, expected to be held in Dubai in the first week of September.
"The Afghanistan Cricket Board has achieved in its short stint the Full Member status of the ICC (International Cricket Council) and Test status as well. We are delighted that today we witness the launch of our new league which will provide global fans and audience an opportunity to watch top class T20 cricket," Shafiqullah Stanikzai, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said in Dubai.
"And the logo that we have unveiled today symbolizes the spirit of Afghanistan as a country. It represents the nature of the Afghan people who are truly patriotic and who now have fallen in love with the great game of cricket," he added.
The 18-day long tournament is slated to start on October 5 and the first season will see 23 matches being played at the iconic Sharjah stadium.
"The rise of Afghanistan cricket has been phenomenal. The national team has performed brilliantly in recent years in international cricket and the cricket board has worked tirelessly to develop the sport in the country," Atif Mashal, chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, stated.
"The success of Afghan players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujibur Rahman in various T20 leagues in the world has set a great example for young players in Afghanistan. This has been one of the main motivations for our cricket board to start this new league as we want to give our young players the chance to play with international stars.
"We planned this tournament last year and today we have taken this important step. This league is a new chapter in the history of Afghan cricket that will benefit all major stakeholders. Players will be able to play competitive cricket and our youngsters will be able to learn from some of the legends of the game. Success has no boundaries and with APL, we are taking our cricket beyond borders,” he explained.
Mashal is also expecting capacity crowds in Sharjah.
"Sharjah cricket stadium is a big name in the world of cricket. We are grateful to them for allowing us to host the league in Sharjah. In fact, Sharjah and the Emirates Cricket Board have always supported Afghan cricket board. Sharjah has been home to Afghan cricket since 2010," Mashal asserted.
"I would like to thank Mr Abdul Rahman Bukhatir and the Bukhatir family for their support. I would also like to thank ICC for their approval. Their support has been immense and we now look forward to having an amazing league," he concluded.