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    Maiden Afghan-Pak friendly begins

    JALALABAD (PAN): The maiden friendly match between Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB)'s squad and cricketers from Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province got underway in the eastern city of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on Thursday.

    The 50 overs game that began at 10am at the Ghazi Amanullah Khan International Cricket Stadium marks the first-ever visit of a foreign cricket team in Afghanistan's history.

    A large number of cricket lovers flocked to the stadium from all over the province, said Nusratullah Wafa, an ACB official. The two sides will play five matches as part of practice for the upcoming one-day international between the two counties in the United Arab Emirates on February 10.

    On Wednesday evening, a gathering involving ACB and government officials was arranged in honour of the visiting team and the hosts in Jalalabad. Presidential advisor and deputy ACB chairman, Shahzada Massoud, told Pajhwok Afghan News it was for the first time that the Pakistanis were playing in Afghanistan.

    He said Afghans were familiar with the environment in Pakistan and the event was also useful for the Pakistanis. "Sportsmen are peace ambassadors. Friendly matches between the sides are in the interest of the peoples and governments of the neighbouring nations."

    Nangarhar deputy governor, Mohammad Hanif Gardiwal, welcoming the visiting team, said a victory by any side would be a win for Afghanistan in terms of cricket promotion.

    A member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team, Malik Tamas, said it was an honour for them to be playing in Afghanistan. "Afghan and Peshawar teams are all the same to me. I consider both as my own side," he remarked.

    Captains of the two teams thanked Governor Gul Agha Sherzai for playing a leading role in facilitating the event.

    ma/mud



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