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Afghanistan Cricket Board sets big goals with new T20 league

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has launched a new Twenty20 competition with the goal of making it one of the world’s leading leagues.

The Afghanistan Premier League (APL) will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates, with its inaugural edition pencilled in for October. The APL is envisioned as a global competition with the existing Shpageeza Cricket League set to continue with a domestic focus.

“There will be a total of 23 matches between five teams,” ACB chief executive Shafiq Stanikzai told the ESPNcricinfo website. “The league will take place in the UAE, but we haven't yet decided on which cities will play host to the league. But now we have got official approval from the Emirates Cricket Board, and we'd like to thank them for that.”

Afghanistan’s development as a cricket nation led to it being granted Test status by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in June. Afghanistan and Ireland became cricket’s 11th and 12th Test-playing nations as they were approved as full members of the global governing body.

Stanikzai said an auction to acquire the five franchises would be held in March, with a player draft to be staged after that. Approximately 40 overseas players are already said to have expressed an interest in competing.

“The APL T20 will be played on a broader scale, both financially and coverage wise,” Stanikzai said. “Our strategic objective is to bring this league into the top three T20 leagues in the world.”

The ACB has engaged the Snixer Sports company as its partner in the venture. Snixer Sports chief executive Ashish Sethi said: “All matches of the league will be played in UAE and televised live on popular TV channels.”