Come to think of it, this is a cricketing rivalry that almost never happened. Perhaps, a tussle that took a back seat to the mother of all battles — India vs Pakistan.

It has taken long but it is better late than never. Being neighbours and sharing a border, Afghanistan and Pakistan will finally take the first baby steps to a cricketing rivalry that should possibly become a permanent fixture on the cricketing calendar.

The two countries, who have met only twice before across two formats (ODI in 2012 and a T20I in 2013, both at Sharjah), multi-team events aside, will face off across three T20 Internationals, the first bilateral series between the two, at the historic Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The first of it will take place on Friday.

This was a series originally scheduled to be hosted by Afghanistan in the UAE in 2021 but had to pushed back to a later date because commercial flights were unable to fly from Kabul. And the original schedule had seen an ODI series pencilled in.

But with both teams having qualified for the 2023 ODI World Cup to be hosted by India and the World Cup Super League points not mattering much, they opted to play out a T20 series instead.

Pakistan may be missing some of its leading lights with regular captain Babar Azam rested along with Mohammad Rizwan, pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Rauf, as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) tries to manage their workload.

But it doesn't take anything away from the series and it still has the portents of a fantastic contest.

Pakistan will be led by the young Shadab Khan, Azam's deputy, with perhaps an eye on the future.

"It is a great honour for me to be leading Pakistan," Shadab said on Thursday.

"As a player this is the highest you can go in your career. I am very excited for the upcoming three T20Is. We have a brilliant mix of youth and experience, which makes us a well-balanced side, and we have what it takes to win this series," added the 24-year-old.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, will be led by Rashid Khan.

"We are ready to take on the challenge and show the world what we're capable of," the leg spinner said.



1st T20I

8 pm UAE Time


2nd T20I

8 pm UAE Time


3rd 20I

8 pm UAE Time

All matches will be played at Sharjah Cricket Stadium


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