Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif hopes to unearth new stars among poor refugee communities during matches being played in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar.
Although Pakistan no longer hosts international cricket because of poor security, war-torn Afghanistan’s cricketers are crossing the border to play in volatile Peshawar because their main grounds are being renovated.
The area is home to thousands of Afghans. who have fled decades of war and conflict in their poverty-stricken homeland, with many living in mud-brick refugee camps.
“Because of renovation work we are playing a tournament of three-day matches in Peshawar followed by a Twenty20 and then a one-day tournament, and I hope these events will help us find more players,” Latif told AFP.
The former Pakistan wicketkeeper took over as Afghan coach last year and instantly helped them win the four-day Inter-Continental Cup, before guiding them to a shock win over Pakistan in the Asian Games Twenty20 semi-finals.
Afghanistan lost to Bangladesh in the final in Guangzhou, China.
Under Latif, Afghanistan shot up to International Cricket Council division one in 2009, enabling them to get one-day status, and then they qualified for the World Twenty20 held in the West Indies last year.
Most of the Afghan team learnt the game as refugees in Pakistani camps after Soviet troops invaded their country in 1979.
Latif, 42, said the three-day tournament is named after Ahmed Shah Abdali, a Muslim ruler regarded as the father of modern Afghanistan.
“We have included three national players in each of the six teams named after provinces of Afghanistan and have also included the Afghan Under-19 team. so that they can prepare for the qualifying round of the Junior World Cup,” said Latif, who played 37 Tests and 166 ODIs for Pakistan. Cricket365