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Afghanistan 'A' will replace Australia 'A' in the triangular 'A' series scheduled to begin in South Africa later this month, which would also involve the 'A' team from India apart from the hosts.
The 'A' teams of South Africa, Australia and India were scheduled to play a triangular series from July 26, but Australia pulled out of the tournament owing to the financial dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the players.
Post this fallout, there were reports that India and South Africa would play a five-match bilateral series, but now with the Afghanistan Cricket Board having accepted Cricket South Africa's (CSA) invitation, the tri-series would be organized as initially scheduled.
The series opener would be between India and Afghanistan in Pretoria on July 26. This would also be Afghanistan first tour to South Africa at any level.
"We are delighted that Afghanistan have accepted our invitation and look forward to welcoming them to our country for the very first time," CSA chief executive Haroon Logart said.
"Afghanistan were deservedly granted Full Member status at the ICC annual conference last month after showing impressive growth in recent years."
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Australia players have been involved in a bitter deadlock with their cricket board over disagreements with respect to the new pay proposal put forward by CA, which has resulted in them being rendered unemployed on June 30 when the two parties failed to sign a new MoU post the expiry of their previous contract.
More than 200 Australia players, including the likes of captain Steven Smith, David Warner, and Mitchell Starc have no contracts as of this date and a state of confusion looms over whether Australia would play any of the bilateral cricket series scheduled for the year, which includes the Ashes scheduled this Australian summer.
"They are a passionate cricket nation and I expect the Afghanistan A team to compete strongly against our A team and India A in the upcoming tri-series," Logart added.
Logart's counterpart, the Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai expressed his excitement on the occasion.
"We are very pleased to accept Cricket South Africa’s invitation to participate in the upcoming triangular series. This will be our first-ever visit to South Africa and I am certain that this will give Afghanistan ’A’ team very good exposure to competitive cricket," Stanikzai said.
All teams would play each other twice and the top two teams would play the final in Pretoria on August 8. The tri-series would be followed by two four-day games between India 'A' and South Africa 'A' scheduled for August 12 in Benoni and August 19 in Potchefstroom.
This is a historical move, as far Afghanistan cricket is concerned, and adds to their growing recognition amongst the top Test nations, following their induction into the Test arena alongside Ireland last month.
The giant strides that they have made in international cricket, a just reward for which was the exhibition game against MCC XI at Lord's, demand more opportunities so that the players get to play against stop-quality sides and gain exposure.
Playing against an Indian side that has international cricketers like Manish Pandey would surely add to the experience that the Afghans so deservingly need.