Pakistan to play three-match T20I series against Afghanistan in March at neutral venue

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The Pakistan Cricket Board has revealed its decision to uphold the commitment made to Afghanistan by going through with a three-match series in March. However, the series would now feature T20Is instead of the previously announced ODIs and take place at a neutral venue with equal revenue sharing.

The rivalry between the Afghanistan and Pakistan cricket teams is all set to get a new chapter with the two scheduled to take each other own in a three-match T20I series from march 20 to 28, as announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board. However, the two nations have reached an agreement to play at a neutral venue with both boards equally responsible for organizing the series and the spoils supposed to be shared equally. Previously, the series was supposed to be held in the United Arab Emirates which in recent times has served as Afghanistan's home venue for international fixtures, not long after Pakistan themselves used stadiums in the country to host other nations for nearly a decade.

The announcement came less than a fortnight after Australia had stated they would be abandoning a three-match ODI series against Afghanistan owing to the Taliban's ban on women's education and limited employment opportunities in the country. PCB President Najam Sethi was quick to dismiss any such woes despite the political tension between the two nations, stating sports should be kept separate. 

"That is not our business and we don't like to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. My personal stance is that politics and cricket shouldn't be mixed up, so following that principle the series is subject to pending approvals from the Pakistan government and I think approvals will be granted," he was quoted saying by ESPN Cricinfo at a press conference on Monday.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have had some heated contests in the past with tensions flaring both on and off the field and even led to violence between the two sets of fans in their meeting at last year's Asia Cup. However, this would be the first time the two sides would meet in a multi-match bilateral affair after the originally planned ODI series for last year had to be cancelled due to the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan causing a curfew at Kabul's airport. Even so, the two teams would meet again ahead of the upcoming ODI World Cup in India in another scheduled ODI series, having already qualified for the showpiece event set to begin in October. 

"I met with the executive members of Afghanistan Cricket Board and they were asking us to play an (ODI) series but we didn't find any attraction playing the series. It's mainly because the series was meant for the [Super League] points, and now no matter who wins it won't make a difference. So we agreed to play a series of three T20Is in Sharjah just after the PSL subject to government approval. We will share 50% of the revenue from the series equally. And we will jointly outsource the production," Sethi added.

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