Afghanistan could play their next 'home' games at the new Ekana international cricket stadium in Lucknow. (Image credit: Getty Images)
The Afghanistan cricket team have endured a nomadic journey in their cricket. They cannot play games in Kabul or anywhere in Afghanistan due to the ongoing security situation in the country. Their first home base was the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex in Greater Noida and they hosted some ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals in that venue against the likes of Ireland and other nations. They shifted base to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Dehradun where they hosted Bangladesh and Ireland. Recently, reports have emerged that Afghanistan now has a new home base.
In a report in Hindustan Times, Afghanistan could host their ‘home’ games at the new Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. Traditionally, international games in Uttar Pradesh would be hosted at Green Park in Kanpur but the facilities for the team in the city were not that great. With Lucknow having five-star hotels, there has been a move to play international games at the Ekana stadium.
However, according to the HT report, the city of Lucknow will give the Afghanistan cricket team a feeling of home away from home. The reason being the Nawabi culture, non-vegetarian cuisine and the presence of a large number of Afghans in the state capital. The Afghanistan Cricket Board could now plan to host the first Afghanistan Premier League in Lucknow as the ground has all the mandatory clearances to host international games. Afghanistan Cricket Board CEO Asadullah Khan has confirmed that they have requested the BCCI to grant the team the Ekana stadium for future matches.
Speaking to HT, Ekana stadium managing director Udai Sinha had confirmed that the Afghan cricket officials were in touch with him. “The ACB people have visited the stadium thrice during the last two months. We have the ICC’s approval and we are ready for all kinds of cricket here. Our first endeavour was appreciated by everyone,” Sinha said.
Afghanistan has endured a torrid time in the 2019 World Cup, losing all their nine games, including some close games against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India. The team was also plagued by issues off the field, with Mohammad Shahzad being sent home and murmurs about Gulbadin Naib’s captaincy.