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Australia Cricket Officials Hopeful November Match With Afghanistan Will Take Place

Afghan players celebrate a wicket of the Zimbabwe cricket team in March.

Cricket officials in Australia say they still hope to hold a planned match against Afghanistan later this year despite the Taliban takeover of the country.

"Cricket Australia's planning for the historic first Test match between Australia and Afghanistan in Hobart is well under way," Cricket Australia (CA) said on its website late on August 31.

The sport’s governing body in the country said preparations for the match beginning November 27 were proceeding as planned.

"There is goodwill between CA and the Afghanistan Cricket Board to make the match happen," it added.

The match was planned for late last year but was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Taliban issued a statement saying the Afghanistan team's schedule would not be interrupted because of the changes in the war-torn country.

"In the future, we want good relations with all countries," Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, told Australia's SBS television.

"When good relations are established, Afghan players can go [to Australia] and they can come here."

During the Taliban’s previous rule in Afghanistan, the hard-line Islamic group banned most forms of entertainment and sports, and stadiums were often used as public execution cites.

Afghan cricket player Naveen-ul-Haq told BBC radio that many of his teammates were fearful following the Taliban takeover.

"The Taliban have said they won't be troubling any sportsmen, but nobody knows," said Haq -- who was in the West Indies, where he plays in the Caribbean Premier League.

Based on reporting by AFP