Afghanistan will play its maiden Test match in the southern Indian city of Bangalore on June 14, cricket officials announced Tuesday.
India’s cricket board said it welcomed the opportunity to host its “friends” for their first Test since they gained full status last year.
The war-torn nation have played the majority of their home games in India, which has supported the minnows in their quest for Test status.
“It will be a historic day for Afghanistan and everybody is waiting for it,” Afghanistan cricket board chairman Atif Mashal said in New Delhi.
Afghanistan have emerged as a competitive international team, with strong performances in the limited-overs format including two one-day series victories in Zimbabwe.
Last year, spinner Rashid Khan and former captain Mohammad Nabi became the first Afghans to be picked in the lucrative Indian Premier League auction.
Afghanistan and Ireland were granted five-day status in June last year by the International Cricket Council, becoming the 11th and 12th Test-playing nations.
Joe Root has been passed fit for the first one-day international against Australia after recovering from a viral illness.
Root was hospitalised on the final morning of the Ashes in Sydney having been stricken with a bad case of gastroenteritis and sat out Thursday’s warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI.
But the Test captain has finally shaken the bug and will give the tourists a major boost by reclaiming his place in the top order for Sunday’s Gillette Series opener.
The 27-year-old took a full part in England’s net session, which took place indoors due to a downpour at the MCG, and emerged in rude health.
HERE. HE. COMES!
— Cricket on BT Sport (@btsportcricket) January 8, 2018
Limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan said: “Joe is good and should be fit to play tomorrow.
“He’s extremely important. He’s been a fantastic leader within the group and, on top of that, there’s the weight of runs he’s scored and the manner that he’s scored them.
“He’s obviously a key part. He’s a very versatile player and can score in any strike-rate that needs to be required, given the situation. He’s very important.”
Morgan did not offer any further clues about the make-up of the England’s team but hinted that all three openers – Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy and Alex Hales could be accommodated.
That may lead to Hales slotting in at number three, with Sam Billings vulnerable to any such switch.
“That is an option,” said Morgan. “Our batting has been our strength over the last couple of years and we don’t want to compromise that, so it’ll be a case of picking our strongest six, plus an all-rounder possibly, or an extra seamer.”
While the recently concluded Ashes series unfolded at an attritional pace, both sides are likely to approach the next five games in a more cavalier fashion.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 13, 2018
England rebranded their limited-overs game dramatically since they were last one these shores, the abject 2015 World Cup campaign which exposed some outdated ideas and became a watershed moment for the team.
And Morgan is clear there is no going back.
“That tournament had quite a significant role for us, really,” he said.
“After that, a line was drawn in the sand and we were given clear directives that the goal was the 2019 World Cup. To bridge the gap between where we were at in that World Cup and, say, being in the semi-final or the final was the first port of the call and bridging that gap came quicker that we ever thought it would.
“We got a huge amount of confidence from the selectors and Andrew Strauss, our director of cricket, gave absolute clarity in what we wanted.
“We certainly thrived on that. It’s not often you get free rein and ambition to be adventurous as you like.”
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) January 13, 2018
The Dublin-born batsman is often seen as a trailblazer within English cricket, a player who saw the need to adopt new methods and accelerate more quickly in one-day cricket before many of his compatriots caught up.
Morgan has proved the ideal man to usher in a new breed of cricketers who play with the handbrake off but he believes the evolution of the format is continuing at a rapid rate.
Indeed, with head coach Trevor Bayliss set to leave when his contract expires next September, Morgan offered tentative support for the return of a split backroom team – with one man in charge of Test cricket and another overseeing the white-ball unit.
England were the first to adopt such an approach, when Ashley Giles and Andy Flower share the roles and while that ultimately proved unsuccessful, it may simply have been ahead of its time.
“I think down the line there will be (a chance),” suggested Morgan.
“Cricket is going to change even more in the next 10 years than it has in the previous 10 years. I’d say, if anything, the formats are getting further and further apart. So I’m open to it.”
New Zealand clinched the one-day series win over Pakistan in emphatic fashion as they bowled the tourists out for 74.
The Black Caps set Pakistan a target of 258 in their 50 overs, following standout performances from Kane Williamson (73) and Ross Taylor (52).
The home side did experience a middle order wobble – the wicket of Taylor came one ball before that of Henry Nicholls (0), and four wickets fell in 12 balls for just 13 runs.
In response, Pakistan were never really at the races. Azhar Ali went for a duck, while fellow opener Fakhar Zaman went for two.
Wickets continued to tumble and it looked like the lowest ever ODI total of 35, set by Zimbabwe in April 2004, may have been troubled.
Faheem Ashraf (10), Mohammad Amir (14) and Sarfraz Ahmed (14no) saved Pakistan from that ignominy in Dunedin, as Trent Boult took a five-for as the Black Caps took a 183-run win and an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series, with two matches left to play.