A general view of the Sharjah Cricket ground during the 1997 Singer Champions Trophy © Getty Images
File Photo of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium which will play host to the Afghanistan Premier League in October 2018 © Getty Images

Afghanistan’s inaugural T20 league will take place in Sharjah in United Arab Emirates between October 5 and 23. Officials of the league said on Monday that West Indies’ Chris Gayle, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum will likely be part of the inaugural league.

“The Afghanistan Cricket Board has achieved in its short stint the Full Member status of the ICC (International Cricket Council) and Test status as well. We are delighted that today we witness the launch of our new league which will provide global fans and audience an opportunity to watch top class T20 cricket,” Shafiqullah Stanikzai, CEO of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said in Dubai on Monday.

The logo of the tournament was unveiled by Afghanistan Cricket Board in a ceremony in Dubai on Monday. “And the logo that we have unveiled today symbolizes the spirit of Afghanistan as a country. It represents the nature of the Afghan people who are truly patriotic and who now have fallen in love with the great game of cricket.”

“The rise of Afghanistan cricket has been phenomenal. The national team has performed brilliantly in recent years in international cricket and the cricket board has worked tirelessly to develop the sport in the country,” Atif Mashal, chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, said on Monday.

“The success of Afghan players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujibur Rahman in various T20 leagues in the world has set a great example for young players in Afghanistan. This has been one of the main motivations for our cricket board to start this new league as we want to give our young players the chance to play with international stars,” Mashal added.

The T20 tournament involves five teams named after five major Afghan provinces (Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia and Balkh). “We planned this tournament last year and today we have taken this important step. This league is a new chapter in the history of Afghan cricket that will benefit all major stakeholders. Players will be able to play competitive cricket and our youngsters will be able to learn from some of the legends of the game. Success has no boundaries and with APL, we are taking our cricket beyond borders.”

The first season will see 23 matches and the organisers are expecting big crowds at the iconic Sharjah stadium. “And the Sharjah cricket stadium is a big name in the world of cricket. We are grateful to them for allowing us to host the league in Sharjah. In fact, Sharjah and the Emirates Cricket Board have always supported Afghan cricket board. Sharjah has been home to Afghan cricket since 2010,” said Mashal.