Afghan T20 League match re­sumes af­ter blast in Kabul

Stabroek News - - SPORT -

(Cricinfo) A re­ported blast has oc­curred dur­ing a Sh­pageeza Cricket League match be­tween Boost De­fend­ers and MIS Ai­nak Knights in Kabul yes­ter­day af­ter­noon. Al­though the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) was not cer­tain about what caused the blast, lo­cal me­dia in Kabul re­ported a sui­cide bomber det­o­nated ex­plo­sives at a se­cu­rity check­point en route to the Alokozay Kabul In­ter­na­tional Cricket Ground in Kabul. Lo­cal me­dia also re­ported that the blast had killed two peo­ple, but the board’s CEO con­firmed that all the players, coach­ing staff and match of­fi­cials were safe.

The league, Afghanistan’s do­mes­tic Twenty20 tour­na­ment, com­prises six teams and fea­tures about two dozen over­seas players from South Africa, West Indies, Zim­babwe, Pak­istan, Sri Lanka and Oman. The De­fend­ers-Knights match was the sec­ond game of the day, fol­low­ing the Amo Sharks-Kabul Ea­gles con­test.

Ac­cord­ing to Shafiqul­lah Stanikzai, ACB’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, the blast oc­curred dur­ing the fourth over of Knights’ chase of 202. South Africa bats­man Cameron Del­port had scored a 42ball cen­tury ear­lier to power De­fend­ers to 201 for 6, which was seven runs too many for Knights.

Apart from Del­port, the other over­seas players at the ground at the time of the blast were Morne van Wyk (South Africa) and Rayad Em­rit (West Indies) for De­fend­ers, while the Zim­bab­wean trio of Vusi Sibanda, Sikan­dar Raza and Ryan Burl were rep­re­sent­ing Knights. Adam Hol­lioake, the for­mer Eng­land cap­tain, is the De­fend­ers coach while Andy Moles is coach­ing Knights.

The match was stopped briefly, but once the Afghanistan gov­ern­men­tap­pointed se­cu­rity gave the clear­ance, it re­sumed. “It is not yet clear what caused the blast,” Stanikzai told ESPNcricinfo. He also said the se­cu­rity heads as­sured the ACB that cricket was not the tar­get in this un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent and hence the game was al­lowed to carry on.

Afghanistan was re­cently in­ducted as the 12th Full Mem­ber by the ICC in June. The se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion has not per­mit­ted any in­ter­na­tional cricket to be played in the war-torn coun­try. But for the Twenty20 league, Stanikzai said the Afghanistan govern­ment it­self was in­volved in se­cu­rity.

“For this tour­na­ment, a spe­cial de­cree has been is­sued by His Ex­cel­lency, the pres­i­dent of the coun­try, to look af­ter the se­cu­rity,” he ex­plained. “We heard a sound, but we were not sure ex­actly what hap­pened. The match was stopped for short time but re­sumed once the se­cu­rity heads told us we can carry on. The pres­i­dent’s spe­cial ad­vi­sor was also present at the ground to as­sure the se­cu­rity. They told us there is no threat to the players.”

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